Yomiuri signs Houlton, ready to give Sugiuchi No. 18

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TOKYO, Dec. 16 (17:47) Kyodo

The Yomiuri Giants said Friday they have acquired right-hander
D.J. Houlton, a member of the 2011 Japan Series-winning Softbank
Hawks, on a two-year, $5 million contract.

Yomiuri also offered free agent left-hander Toshiya Sugiuchi,
who also pitched for Softbank this past season, the jersey number of
18 -- given traditionally to ace pitchers -- in the second round of
their offseason talks.

Houlton went 19-6 with a 2.19 ERA in 26 starts in 2011, tying
Sawamura Award winner Masahiro Tanaka of the Rakuten Eagles for the
Japanese baseball lead in wins.

After Softbank fell short of re-signing the 32-year-old former
Los Angeles Dodger, Yomiuri jumped at the opportunity to land Houlton
and is now trying to add Sugiuchi to its starting rotation.

Sugiuchi has already received a four-year contract offer from
the Giants.

''That jersey number is the best possible offer I could think of
from them, aside from financial terms,'' said Sugiuchi's agent
Tatsuma Sakai. ''I'll speak with my client in Fukuoka this weekend
and hope we'll make a decision early next week.''

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