The SoftBank Hawks earlier today held a press conference to officially confirm their reacquisition of Alfredo Despaigne. The Nippon League squad traveled to Havana and officially inked the Cuban Slugger earlier this in the Adolfo Luque room of Latinoamericano Stadium in the Island’s capital.
Despaigne started the season in the Cuban National Series that began, March 29, has garnered interest from the Nippon club as per the colleague Francys Romero’s report. The slugger is hit .333 with five homeruns and 16 RBIs in 78 at-bats this season in the Serie Nacional with Granma.
The native of Santiago de Cuba was not offered a contract by the SoftBank Hawks during the offseason making him an international free agent. Due to the fact he is banned for life in the Mexican League he did not receive any offers to play in that country’s professional circuit either.
— Yadir Drake (@yadir_drake) June 26, 2023
By playing in Cuba and showcasing his talents to scouts he was hoping to generate interest from the NPB or another foreign league. That gamble seemed to have paid off and the offer for the ” Horse of Horses” as per Romero will be for the rest of the season, possibly for 1.5 million dollars.
After his excellent performance in the fifth World Baseball Classic with the Cuban National Team, Despaigne decided to join the Alazanes in hopes of winning their third title in a row. But for the first time in many years the team was without their long-time manager, Carlos Martí, who announced his retirement days after winning the first Elite League of Cuban Baseball with the Agricultores.
Despaigne made his debut with SoftBank Hawks in 2017 where he was the leader in RBIs with 103 and home runs with 35, a season that concluded with the first of four titles that the Cuban and SoftBank would achieve together. Before starting the 2022 campaign, the slugger signed with the organization for 2.5 million dollars and hit .269 with 14 longballs and 40 RBIs in 89 games last season.
The Hawks chose ex-big leaguer William Astudillo over him this offseason. But due to the fact that Astudillo who is hitting a paltry .133 was demoted to the minors and Yuki Yanagita seems to be the only big bat in the lineup, the Nippon has decided to take a chance and bring back the power-hitting Despaigne.
¡ATENCIÓN! Los medios japoneses anuncian que el regreso de 🇨🇺Alfredo Despaigne a los Halcones de SoftBank ya es un hecho. El contrato ya ha sido firmado y se espera que el toletero llegue a Japón a mediados de junio.
— Béisbol Japonés.com (@beisboljapones) May 31, 2023
During his time in the land of the rising sun with SoftBank and Chiba Lotte he slugged 184 homers, drove in 545 runs, collected 786 hits. He also hit .263 over his career in Japan and posted an OPS of .842 , making him one of the best foreigners to have played in the second best baseball circuit in the world. Undoubtedly, he will be recognized as the best Cuban slugger in the history NPB, although many in Japan many say that title belongs to Orestes Destrade. Though Despaigne’s overall numbers are better, Destrade has more individual awards to back up that claim.
Despaigne was a key bat in one top dynasties in the history of the Japanese League winning four titles in six years, this feat was second only to the historic Yumiuri Giants who won nine consecutive crowns between 1965 and 1973 and the invincible Seibu Lions of the 1970’s and ’80s when they raised eight trophies in ten years between 1982 and 1992. He returns to the NPB as one of the most prolific Latin American sluggers of all time and has a shot at reaching 200 roundtrippers in Japan this season.