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12/27/2006 4:09 PM ET
Yankees announce signing of LHP Kei Igawa
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The New York Yankees announced today that they have signed left-handed pitcher Kei Igawa to a five-year contract. The Yankees won the exclusive rights to negotiate with him on November 28.

Igawa, 27, posted a 14-9 record with a 2.97 ERA in 29 starts with the Hanshin Tigers of the Japanese Central League in 2006 (209.0IP, 180H, 77R, 69ER, 49BB, 194K). He was tied for the lead among all Central League pitchers with his 194 strikeouts, ranked second in the league in wins and complete games (eight), third in innings pitched and ranked seventh with his 2.97 ERA.

On April 14, 2006, Igawa became the fifth-fastest pitcher in Japanese baseball history to record 1,000 career strikeouts (in 1,058 innings pitched). Including 2006, he has now led the Central League in strikeouts three times during his career, having also captured the league strikeout title in 2002 (206 strikeouts) and 2004 (228).

A three-time Central-League All Star (2001, 2002 and 2003), Igawa has won at least 10 games in each of the last five seasons. In 2003, he was named the Central League MVP after going 20-5 with a league-leading 2.80 ERA in 29 games for the Tigers. He was also honored as the co-winner of the prestigious Sawamura Award in 2003, given to the top pitcher in Japanese baseball each year.

Originally selected out of Mito Shogyo High School as Hanshin's second draft choice in 1997, Igawa owns a career record of 86-60 with a 3.15 ERA and 1,174 strikeouts in 190 appearances.

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