AHNY's Japanese correspondent reports that, according to Tokyo newspapers, at least ten Major League teams are after Kosuke Fukudome. The lowest offer he has received is $33 million for 3 years, far above the $18 million/4-year offer to the veteran outfielder from the lone Japanese team still in pursuit, the Yomiuri Giants.
The Tokyo press lists the Cubs, Rangers, San Francisco and the Padres among the favorites to win the bidding. The Rangers are trying to leverage their recent hire of former Cub Jim Colborn as Far East Scout. Colborn has definite Japanese ties, having coached for the Kobe Blue Wave. Also, his Major League resumé includes coaching stints in Los Angeles, where he tutored Hideo Nomo and Kaz Ishii, and with the Mariners, who imported Ichiro during Colborn's time there.
Japanese media are speculating that in the end, Fukudome's annual salary will be the largest ever for a Japanese player, maybe as much as $13-$15 million.
At espn.com today, Jayson Stark mentions a free agent outfielder who actually played in the Major Leagues last season and might be a fit for the Cubs, though he hasn't garnered much attention lately, from the Chicago press or any other outlets–Andruw Jones:
"...it's amazing how little you hear Andruw Jones' name these days. But two front-office men we spoke with said they've figured out the perfect dark-horse destination for him–the Royals.
"'Think about it,' said one of them. 'The GM [former Braves executive Dayton Moore] has ties to him. They have money to spend. They want to make a splash. And they desperately need a center fielder. The fit there is better than you'd think.'"