Oct 14, 2015; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals fans celebrate after the win over the Houston Astros in game five of the ALDS at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Yasuhiko Yabuta – Relief Pitcher
One of the “benefits” of hiring Trey Hillman, who had won the NPL World Series with the Nippon Ham Fighters, was that he could help persuade Japanese players to come to Kansas City. One such “find” was 35-year-old Yasuhiko Yabuta, who signed a two-year, $8 million contract with the KC Royals—a healthy salary for a middle reliever at the time.
More from KC Royals All-Time Lists
- KC Royals: Some interesting uniform number facts
- KC Royals: The Top 5 Kansas City speedsters, Part 2
- KC Royals: Top 5 Kansas City speedsters, Part 1
- KC Royals: Ranking the club’s 4 Rookies of the Year
- KC Royals: Dayton Moore’s top first round draft picks
Yabuta was so good that he spent most of his time pitching for AAA Omaha rather than Kansas City. In the limited time that Yabuta managed to play for the KC Royals, he sucked.
In 2008, Yabuta went 1-3 with a 4.78 ERA in 37.2 innings, followed by a 2-1 record and 13.50 ERA in 14.0 innings in 2009. To reach such a lofty number, Yasuhiko Yabuta gave up 21 runs in 14 innings. In the end, the KC Royals got a 3-4 record with 7.14 ERA in 51.2 innings for their $8 million.
To put Yabuta’s contract in perspective, the Kansas City Royals had a $58 million opening day payroll in 2008, and $70 million in 2009. Those weren’t teams that could afford to waste $4 million a season on a risky NPL relief pitcher that turned out to be a bust.
Next: Tried To Cruz His Way Through Season