Efren Navarro

Pierce Johnson
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Pierce Johnson to pitch for Hanshin Tigers

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Right-handed reliever Pierce Johnson has signed a contract with the Hanshin Tigers of Nippon Professional Baseball, the pitcher announced Saturday. Johnson cleared waivers in November and elected free agency after completing a one-year run in San Francisco.

The 27-year-old righty was initially selected by the Cubs in the first round of the 2012 draft and worked his way up to the majors before getting claimed off of waivers by the Giants in 2017. He made his sophomore debut at the start of the 2018 season and acquired an ungainly 5.56 ERA, 4.5 BB/9, and 7.4 SO/9 through 43 2/3 innings with the club. Altogether, he’s compiled just 44 2/3 major-league innings across two seasons in Chicago and San Francisco, and will seek to improve on disappointing totals when he switches over to Japan’s premier baseball league in 2019.

The details of Johnson’s contract with the Tigers has yet to be announced, nor is it clear whether or not he plans to make an eventual return to MLB. Former major leaguers to make recent appearances for the Tigers include right-handers Diego Moreno and Rafael Dolis and first baseman Efren Navarro.