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Indians sign 18-year-old Japanese outfielder Takuya Tsuchida
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The Indians have signed an 18-year-old Japanese outfielder to a minor league contract.
Takuya Tsuchida will go to spring training with the Indians minor leaguers in March and probably open the year in extended spring. He's a left-handed hitter with speed and athleticism, who can play several positions.
Right now his best two spots are center field and second base.
The Indians have scouted and talked to Shohei Otani, another 18-year-old Japanese player with a much higher profile. Otani, a pitcher, has told big league clubs that he wants to forego playing professionally in Japan and come straight to the United States. Several teams are interested, but he has been drafted by a Japanese team.
Under the new collective bargaining agreement, each team has an allotment of $2.9 million to spend on international free agents. The Indians had about $700,000 left before signing Tsuchida. It will take much more than that to sign Otani, but the question is do any teams have enough money left to get a deal done. Teams are penalized for exceeding their free agent allotment.