The Softbank Hawks apparently do want Kenji Johjima.
Softbank COO Takanori Takeuchi said on Friday (10/24) that, "We have decided to enter the bidding war."
Takeuchi continued, "We have some issues with player development and things are kind of rough for us financially as well right now. ...and the result of that meant we had to put this off until later. Now we need to figure out a way to show him we're sincere."
There is still no set date for when the two sides will meet but when asked about what kind of offer the team might present Johjima, Takeuchi repled, "We will take our current team's balance into consideration as we try to work out a reasonable offer."
Sadaharu Oh met with Johjima on Saturday for dinner to let him know that the team was interested in him. There was no specific talk about contracts or offers.
Oh's comments after the meeting: "No decisions were made today. I'm sure Johjima will let us know what he's thinking sometime in the near future. Today was just about letting each other know how we felt. It's been 15 years since we first started working together. He was also born in Kyushu so he knows what the fans are thinking as well."
Johjima's comments after the meeting (via his agent): "The Hawks are my old team. To be told by Oh-san that the team is interested in me, that's very special to me. I'll think about this carefully but since I don't want to cause any fuss for the Hawks or Tigers, I'll do my best to make my decision as soon as possible."
Toshiya Sugiuchi and Tsuyoshi Wada also offered their opinions.
Sugiuchi: "I'd love for him to catch me. It definitely beats having to face him."
Wada: I still remember hugging Johjima's when we won the Championships."
The Tigers would love for Johjima to hurry up and decide what he would like to do so that he can begin working out with the team during the Tigers' Fall camp that begins on 10/29.
An interview with Tigers' club president Nobuo Minami after his meeting with him on the 10/23:
On the preliminary negotiations with Johjima
I can't really get into that. Conditions? We told him everything.
Your initial feelings?
I think it went well.
Do you think something could be decided soon?
I don't think it can ever be, "meet today and sign the contract today." After all, this is a big decision for him.
What did Akinobu Mayumi and Johjima talk about?
They spoke about baseball stuff.
Will there be another meeting?
I'm guessing there will be. It will go one step at a time. And we don't want to take exposure away from the postseason right now.
What did you talk about with the agent?
We spoke about a number of things. Outside of money? We didn't really get into the specifics. We did say that we could use his abilities to help us win a Championship. This is going to be a really big choice for Johjima.
Now that you've negotiated with him, what are you thoughts on Johjima?
He really takes baseball seriously. He seemed really passionate about baseball when he started talking about it.
Why did you end up meeting today?
This day was open on our schedules.
A snippet from Johjima's interview on the 21st:
When would you like to decide by?
The reason why I picked the Mariners back then was because they were the first to make a move and I really got the sense that they wanted me. And that's what I'm thinking now, so I have no intention of dragging this out and to be honest, this isn't about money. It's not like I came out here for the money so that's really not the most important thing for me. It's about joining a team that wants me and playing time. So whichever contract can give me the most playing time. That's basically what I'll be looking for.