Nobuhito Hasegawa: Mr. Ungettable

Updated: January 9, 2016

Gary Trundleburry, Shin Seiki Post

12/01/2022: Nagoya, Japan 


The White Whale

Since day 1 at the helm of the Evas in the 2009-2010 off season,3B Nobuhito Hasegawa has been an acquisition target of Evas GM Kevin Vail. But for eleven years and counting, Hasegawa has eluded Vail’s grasp.

The things that have kept him out of Shin Seiki have varied over the years. But the persistent elusiveness has become a bit of an obsession of Vail’s. Captain Ahab had his whale. Kevin Vail has Nobuhito Hasegawa.

Inside the Evas organization, at least in the days of the LRS, there was an expression: “Everyone gets a turn in Shin Seiki”. While tongue-in-cheek, there was an element of truth to it. Somehow the best and brightest of the LRS seemed to find their way in to an Eva uniform, if only for few months during a pennant run. Jon Wood, Eitoku “Mjølnir” Yamada and Ton “Dracula” Nakamura are some example that come to mind, but there are many others. Yet despite Hasegawa being actively pursued over the course of many years, it just never happened.

The cause of Hasegawa’s evasion varied over the years:

  • 2009 – 2011: Hasegawa was perhaps the best player in the LRS. But the Ghosts were helmed by GM Dan Vail, Kevin’s brother. A healthy mixture of strategy, spite and brotherly distrust made a deal inconceivable. A frustrating, but understandable start to the obsession.
  • 2012 – 2014: Hasegawa is dealt to rival Neo Tokyo in a blockbuster trade headlined by top SP prospect Kata Nakamura. The Evas lacked the prospect ammunition to be able to match that sort of a package. Hasegawa continued to dominate the LRS on Neo Tokyo through 2014.
  • 2015: Hasegawa is dealt back to the Ghosts. “He was available?!?” was the quote from a visibly flustered Vail.
  • 2018: At last! Hasegawa is a free agent. But up against some tight financials, Shin Seiki is unable to out bid PEBA. Hasegawa goes to Canton.
  • 2020: Hasegawa is a Free Agent again, but this time the Evas have all spots where he could be of use filled. 1B and DH are covered by SS legends Suzuki and Hiraoka. 3B was covered by top prospect Richard Kelly. So with no place to put him, the Evas a forced to watch him go to Florida at a bargain basement price of $5,010,000.
  • 2021: Hasegawa is a Free Agent yet again, but the Evas are still full up with the same productive hitters. Hasegawa signs with new LRS Sendai Flying Eagles.
  • heres-why-swearing-is-f-ing-good-for-you2022: Finally the Evas finally seem perfectly positioned to acquire Hasegawa via Free Agency. Hamada had departed and seemed unlikely to resign in SS. The Eva free agent budget is the biggest it has ever been thanks a surge in revenue. The Evas find themselves in need of an infielder who can hit lefties and play some solid defense at 1B and some 3B in a pinch. Hasegawa is no longer the league dominating force he once was, but he fits that role perfectly. One problem: Hasegawa despises the Evas’ brand new head coach Jonah Grimes. So he is unwilling to even talk contract with the Evas. “$%!#.” was the only quote Mr. Vail would provide when asked for his comments on the situation.

So Vail faces some tough choices. Does he give up on Hasegawa once and for all? Hasegawa is 38 and will be 39 on opening day. This is probably the last chance to acquire and get any sort of production out of Hasegawa. Could Vail part ways with Grimes before he even gets a chance to manage a game? The Grimes contract isn’t exactly massive… Or maybe Vail finds a solution that works for everyone. I wouldn’t put it past the Evas to find a way to make it work.

After all –  Everyone gets a turn in Shin Seiki.