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Yankees turn in top bid for Igawa

Posted: Tuesday November 28, 2006 1:30PM; Updated: Tuesday November 28, 2006 6:37PM
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By Jon Heyman, SI.com

NEW YORK -- The New York Yankees won the bidding for Hanshin Tigers left-handed pitcher Kei Igawa, SI.com has learned. The top bid is believed to be about $25 million.

Hanshin had until Thursday to accept the winning bid, but decided early to accept the bid for Igawa, who went 14-9 with a 2.97 ERA. Several teams bid on Igawa but there was a vast difference of opinion of his value, reflected in the bids, with some seeing him as a reliever or No. 5 type starter and some seeing him as much better than that.

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As is the case with right-handed pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka and the Red Sox, the Yankees will have 30 days to negotiate a contract. Igawa isn't considered a hard thrower but is 86-60 with a 3.15 lifetime ERA with Hanshin. He was 20-5 with a 2.38 ERA in 2003 when he won the Central League MVP.

The Yankees pay Hanshin only if they reach an agreement for Igawa.

Igawa went 14-9 last season with a 2.97 ERA in Japan. He struck out 194 to tie for the Central League lead, adding to the strikeout titles he won in 2002 and 2004. He would have to play in Japan for three more seasons before he could become a free agent.

The Boston Red Sox bid $51.1 million earlier this month to win the right to negotiate with Seibu Lions pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, the MVP of the World Baseball Classic. The Red Sox have until midnight on Dec. 14 to agree to a deal with Matsuzaka and his agent, Scott Boras.

Also this month, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays won the rights to Japanese infielder Akinori Iwamura of the Yakult Swallows with a bid of about $4.5 million.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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