clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Matt Hague's rights sold to Japan's Hanshin Tigers for $300,000

Matt Hague
Matt Hague
Peter Llewellyn-USA TODAY Sports

After a career-best season led him to win the International League Most Valuable Player award, Matt Hague will be heading overseas to play in Japan in 2016 after the Blue Jays traded his rights to the Hanshin Tigers of the Central League for a $300,000 transfer fee according to a report from Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith. Hague was given his release on Tuesday to officially remove him from the 40-man roster (and the Roster Tree Route Map). The Blue Jays now have six open spots on their roster.

Specific rumours about the Tigers’ interest in Hague started swirling in late October with a few Japanese reports referring to a "Matt Hug", but foreign scouts had been eying Hague for most of the season down in Buffalo.

He certainly fits the bill for a foreign recruit into the Japanese professional league as a journeyman quad-A-type player with some major league experience with power. He used up his last minor league option year in 2015 so he had limited flexibility with the Blue Jays going forward with Edwin Encarnacion, Chris Colabello, and Justin Smoak ahead of him on the first base depth charts. Hague is behind Josh Donaldson at third base and is not a particularly good defender on the hot corner.

This was not the first time Hague had been recruited to play in Asia: according to an interview with John Lott, last offseason Hauge was approached by a team in Korea but was blocked from going by the Blue Jays.

Hague, 30 and newly married as of this weekend, was acquired by the Blue Jays towards the end of the 2014 minor league season on a waiver claim from the Pirates. Stepping up as the team’s best hitter after Chris Colabello’s departure, Hague led the Bisons with a .338/.416/.468 line (161 wRC+), hitting 11 homers in 596 plate appearances, leading the IL in batting average, hits, singles, on-base percentage, and on-base plus slugging, and weighted runs created plus. He also possessed a magical ability to come through in the clutch in many instances throughout the season. After rosters expanded in September, Hague was recalled and had a memorable double in the bottom of the ninth on September 19 that fell just short of a dramatic game-tying homer.

According to NPB Tracker's handy guide, Hague's salary range will be from $400,000 to $1,000,000, with my guess that he would be at the higher end of that (or even exceed it), if the Tigers were willing to pay a $300,000 transfer fee for him and if he was offered almost a million dollars play in Korea

The Hanshin Tigers play in legendary Koshien Stadium in Nishinomiya, which opened in 1924 and features a distinctive all-dirt infield. It is the site of the annual national high school baseball championship--in fact, the tradition of high school baseball is so important to the stadium that TIgers games have to be rescheduled if there is a conflict with a high school tournament game.

The Blue Jays organization employed three MVPs this season: Ryan McBroom in the Midwest League, Matt Hague in the International League, and Josh Donaldson in the American League.