The following is an unedited news release from the Texas Rangers, published Jan. 5, 2018.
The Texas Rangers and the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters of Nippon Professional Baseball today announced a multi-year partnership agreement beginning in 2018 that will encompass both baseball and business operations.
"The Rangers are very excited to be entering into this new relationship with the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters," said team President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Jon Daniels. "This agreement will allow us to share baseball information and instruction techniques that should be very beneficial to both organizations. There is also common ground in the fact that both franchises are in the process of building new ballparks. We look forward to working with the Hokkaido group in what will be a very productive partnership.
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"The Rangers organization has been very active in Japan and the Pacific Rim for a number of years and this agreement allows us to extend our reach."
The teams will be exchanging scouting reports and other baseball operations information. In addition, the Fighters will have a member of their baseball staff work in the Rangers' system as an instructor during spring training and the regular season in 2018. Texas personnel will also travel to Japan to observe the Fighters' operation.
The Rangers will also be advising the Fighters on their plans to build a new ballpark in Sapporo. That project was announced in July 2017 and similar to the Rangers' new Globe Life Field project, is expected to include a mixed-use entertainment district. Hokkaido currently plays in the Sapporo Dome.
"The Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters are proud to announce the brand new official business partnership with one of the greatest organizations in MLB, Texas Rangers," said Hokkaido General Manager Hiroshi Yoshimura. "We are looking forward to being actively involved in a broad range of fields, including sharing scouting information, personnel exchanges, and mutual cooperation in many different business aspects, including our new stadium. We are hoping this new partnership will help make huge strides and further development for both clubs."
The Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters play in the NPB Pacific League and are three-time Japan Series champions, most recently in 2016. Former Fighters who have played in Major League Baseball include all-star pitchers Yu Darvish and Hideki Okajima, pitcher Yoshinori Tateyama, and outfielder Tsuyoshi Shinjo as well as Shohei Ohtani, who signed with the Los Angeles Angels in December. In addition, recently signed Rangers pitcher Chris Martin was with Hokkaido in 2016-17.