Toshiya Sugiuchi met with the Yomiuri Giants for about an hour and half on Thursday and was reportedly offered a four-year deal. He also had a chance to talk to Tatsunori Hara over the phone during negotiations with the team.
Nikkan Sports is carrying the following comments from Sugiuchi (taken from his press conference after meeting with the Giants):
Your discussions with the team are done, what are you thinking now?
They gave me a really good offer. Up until today, it was just information I was reading in the newspapers and then I met with GM [Atsushi] Harasawa today and he left a really good impression on me.
You did receive a call from Harasawa when you became a free agent...
It was an honor for me and he even provided me with an explanation for why they wanted me. It made me really happy.
Your impression of the Giants?
They are a wonderful team and the Hawks do have chairman [Sadaharu] Oh. They have a lot of great players like Oh. They also have tradition and they left a strong impression.
Any part of your conversation that left a lasting impression?
It last an hour and a half and there were times where the conversation became a little silly. We talked about hobbies. I also spoke to [Tatsunori] Hara kantoku over the phone and he told me to make a decision I will not come to regret. It was the first time we spoke since the WBC. I was nervous, but happy.
Did you talk about anything specific, like which uniform number you might get?
They did ask me which number I wanted. Gussan, [Tetsuya] Yamaguchi, wears number 47. I did tell them I was not stuck on that number so much that I wanted to take it away from someone.
Did you ask them any questions?
I asked some questions regarding my family, because that is what concerns me the most. They said they will provide me with their full support. Other than that, nothing else.
You will now sit down with Softbank...
I will now meet with the Hawks. As Oh said to pick the path I will not regret, what I can say now is that I will have no regrets.
What is the most important thing you will consider when making your decision?
I want to play where I am needed. Whether that is the Hawks or the Giants, I am not sure yet. I want to focus on that area.
When will you decide by?
I do not want to inconvenience either team, so I would like to decide as soon as possible. Either way, there is a good chance I will end my career [with the team I decide to sign with] so I may not be able to decide that quickly, but I will carefully consider my options within a set timeframe.
[Yu] Darvish decided to play in the Majors. Is there anything you would like to say to him?
I respect his abilities too and I think he will do well. I hope he does.
You said you felt needed by the Giants, what exactly did you mean by that?
Harasawa said that in years the Giants win a championship, or are close to winning a championship, they usually have 2-3 left-handed pitchers in the starting rotation. Last year, Utsumi was the only one. He said, "Sugiuchi-kun, please join the Giants and give up 2 left-handed pitchers. That will get a closer to a championship." That really stuck with me.
Do you have any private ties with Utsumi?
We both played in the WBC. I do not know his phone number or anything, but Utsumi and Yamaguchi both drop by to say hello. They are endearing kohai.
Can you imagine pull the team together with Utsumi?
I am not really sure. Well. I wonder. I should know when I make my decision, after meeting with the Hawks. I still do not know which [team I want to play for] though.
What about your uniform number?
I did not think it was really necessary for me to say anything. I was not planning to ask them for the number 47. They asked me and I said it does not really matter. They did not offer me any numbers.
How long did you talk to Hara?
I was nervous, so I do not really remember, but maybe two minutes. Two to three minutes. I was so nervous the only thing I was able to say was, "Yes, I understand."
At what point during the negotiations did the phone call take place?
I think after we talked about baseball and before we started talking about hobbies.
Was their offer a considerable amount?
They made me a great offer. I think my [agent] can provide more details on that. But with regards to that, I have no issues [with what they offered].
You must have some concerns about housing. Will they support you there?
My kid begins elementary school next year and I am not the best as adjusting to new environments. If I decide on the Giants, it might take me some time [to adjust]. But this is not just something that affects me.
What is the biggest thing that will affect your decision?
I might have been able to make my decision quicker if I were single, but if I decide to come here, it means I will have to leave my beloved Fukuoka behind and I think that may be the biggest thing holding me back.
What has your family been saying?
That they will follow whichever path I decide to take.
And regarding the money offered, Sugiuchi's agent made the following comment:
There are no offers that could go above this. ... They are willing to take on every part of [Sugiuchi's] baseball career.
UPDATE @ 9:01am - Sugiuchi's agent told reporters that negotiations with the Hawks will likely take place during the team's victory trip to Hawaii (12/12 - 12/18).