Kensuke Gondo has re-signed with the bank

SoftBank’s Kensuke Gondo, 30, a three-time Nippon Professional Baseball batting champion, has re-signed with the bank for an annual salary of 550 million yen (about $5.06 billion).

According to Japanese media, Gondo signed a new contract on Friday at the SoftBank team office at the PAYPAY Dome in Fukuoka, Japan, for an annual salary of 550 million yen next year.

Gondo joined SoftBank as a free agent prior to this season. Gondo made his first-team debut with Nippon Ham in 2012 and played 11 seasons with the organization until last year. He left Nippon Ham as a free agent after the season and signed a seven-year, 5 billion yen ($46 billion) contract with SoftBank. It was estimated by Japanese media to be the largest contract in history.

In his first year as a free agent, Gondo played in 143 games, batting .333 with 26 home runs, 87 RBIs, 75 runs scored, and a .959 OPS. He led the league in home runs and RBIs for the first time in his career. He also won three on-base percentage titles (.431).

Gondo hit a home run in his final at-bat in the ninth inning of the season finale to tie for the team lead in home runs.

His 26th home run of the season tied him with Eito Asamura (Rakuten) and Polanco (Chiba Lotte) for the Pacific League lead in home runs. His .307 batting average was second in the league, 안전놀이터 behind only Yuma Tongu of the Orix. He was named Best Nine and Golden Glove outfielder at the postseason awards ceremony.

After signing, Gondo said, “My goal was to play in every game, and I’m happy that I achieved it. In terms of performance, I’ve been focusing on my batting average for the last three years or so, and it’s paid off.” In his 11 seasons with Nihon Ham, Gondo was a switch-hitter who batted .413 with 52 home runs and a .434 on-base percentage, but this season he exploded for power, hitting over 20 home runs for the first time and winning the home run title. His on-base percentage was also in the top five for the first time (.528).

SoftBank finished the season in third place. Kondo said, “We fell one step short of second place at the end. We came here to win the championship. I want to win the league championship next year and be the best in Japan, and personally, I want to improve my numbers a little bit more this year,” he said.

Meanwhile, in the World Baseball Classic (WBC) in March, Gondo started at second base and went 2-for-3 with a solo home run, a walk, a double and three RBIs.

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