Batista signs 2-year, $15M deal with Fukuoka

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic -- Third baseman Tony Batista will play in Japan next season after hitting 32 homers and
knocking in 110 runs with the Montreal Expos last year.

The free agent said Sunday the Fukuoka Hawks will pay him $15
million for two years -- a $5 million signing bonus in addition to
$5 million in each of the next two seasons.

"The Japanese gave me a good offer, but it was also really the
only offer that I got," the two-time All-Star told The Associated

The team also signed utilityman Jolbert Cabrera.

Batista said he signed the deal last week in Miami. Fukuoka has
not confirmed the deal although it was announced by Batista and his
agents. The 31-year-old Dominican said he will travel to Japan at
the end of the month.

Batista said Tampa Bay, Houston and Detroit showed interest in
signing him but none came close to matching Fukuoka's offer.

For his career, Batista has a .251 average, 214 homers and 681
RBI. He has spent nine seasons in the majors with Oakland,
Arizona, Toronto, Baltimore and Montreal.

32-year-old Cabrera, released by Seattle last week, hit .270
with 47 RBIs in 113 games for the Mariners last season. He also
played seven positions.

The Hawks, three-time Japan Series champion, were sold by
troubled retailer Daiei Inc. to Japanese Internet service provider
Softbank Corp. for $48.5 million in November.