January 10, 2002
Hours after the Dodgers landed the negotiating rights to Japanese lefthander Kazuhisa Ishii, the Cardinals got into the act by signing Japanese all-star outfielder So Taguchi to a three-year contract.
The deal includes performance incentives that could push its value over $3 million.
Taguchi, 32, played with the Orix BlueWave of the Japanese Pacific League since 1992, where he was a teammate of Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki.
Taguchi batted .277-67-404 in 10 season in Japan, and hit .280-8-42 last season.
Four major league teams, including the Cardinals and Yankees, as well as Japan’s BlueWave and the Hashin Tigers had been vying for Taguchi’s services.
“I chose St. Louis because they offered me a chance to be a part of a team with tradition and they have a winning attitude,” Taguchi said. “I’ve heard so much about the great Cardinals teas and players and also the St. Louis fans.
The 5-foot-10, 163-pounder is an above average defensive player with an above average arm and good speed. He earned five Golden Glove Awards in Japan.
“We had been looking to add some outfield deph and also to find a righthanded bat for the lineup,” Cardinals general manager Walt Jocketty said.