Report: Former Pirates RF Gregory Polanco is on the verge of a deal to play in Japan next season


Former Pittsburgh Pirates rightfield player Gregory Polanco, a former top prospect who has become a lightning rod for fans, is reportedly close to signing a deal in Japan for the next season.

The Dominican sports journalist Tenchy Rodriguez reported on Twitter that a deal with the Yomiuri Giants of Nippon Professional Baseball is “almost” complete.

The 6-foot-5, 240-pound Polanco, a native of the Dominican Republic, cut .208 / .283 / .354 with 12 doubles, two triples, 11 home runs, and 36 RBIs with a team high of 14 stolen bases in 107 games last season.

Polanco, who turned 30 in September, was released on August 28, just three days after fans at PNC Park sang for the Pirates to call him “DFA” after they made a costly mistake in a loss to Arizona Had made diamondbacks. At the time, Polanco was the Pirates’ longest tenure and the last remaining member of their 2015 wildcard team to win 98 games.

He was signed to a minor league contract by the Toronto Blue Jays, beating .374 with a 1,183 OPS, seven doubles, nine homers and 24 RBIs in 24 games for their Triple-A daughter in Buffalo last September.

Polanco was one of the top 10 contestants in baseball in 2014 but never lived up to Sports Illustrated’s claim as the game’s “Next Big Thing”. He met 22 homers with 86 RBIs in 2016 and 23 homers with 81 RBIs in 2018, but had to undergo surgery on his left (throwing) shoulder after an uncomfortable slide in September 2018 and never returned to his previous form.

Polanco only played 42 games in 2019, scoring six home runs and 17 RBIs. In the 2020 season shortened by the pandemic, Polanco missed two weeks of training camp with Covid-19 and beat .150 with seven homers and 22 RBIs in 50 games.

In eight seasons with the Pirates, Polanco beat .241 with a .718 OPS and 96 home runs. His 89 homers as right fielder rank fourth in the club’s history, behind Roberto Clemente (234), Dave Parker (160) and Paul Waner (102).

Polanco is the newest former Pirates player to sign overseas. After helping Tokyo Yakult Swallows win the NPB last season, Jose Osuna signed a three-year contract extension. Pitcher Dovydas Neverauskas (Hiroshima Toyo Carp), Kyle Keller (Hanshin Tigers) and Cody Ponce (Nippon Ham Fighters) also play in the NPB. Pitcher Nick Kingham (Hamuka Eagles) and first baseman Will Craig (Kiwoon Heroes) play in the Korean Baseball Organization.

Kevin Gorman is a contributor to Tribune Review. You can contact Kevin by email at [email protected] or on Twitter .

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