MLB Rumors: Yusei Kikuchi, the left handed free agent pitcher posted by the Seibu Lions earlier this month, is one of the top starting pitchers still on the free agent market. The 27 year old has a solid track record in Japan, and while he’s not considered a potential ace like last year’s Japanese sensation, Shohei Ohtani, he is viewed as someone who can be a solid major league starter.
All 30 MLB teams have the right to negotiate with Kikuchi, who isn’t subject to the J-2 bonus limitations, and under the new posting rules, Seibu will receive a percentage of his major league deal, rather than a fixed posting fee as in years past. Under the posting rules, Kikuchi and the MLB team he is signing with have to submit the agreement by the 30th day after he posts, or else he returns to Seibu for 2019.
As was pointed out in the morning thread, the deadline for Kikuchi to sign is just three das away — 4 p.m. Central on January 2, 2019 — and yet the rumor mill has been silent of late. While normally you hear talk from both national and local writers about meetings, who is bidding, who is thought to be the favorite, there has been mostly silence of late regarding Kikuchi. Kikuchi is represented by Scott Boras, who normally isn’t media shy when it comes to talking about his guys.
The Texas Rangers have both a need for starting pitching and an active scouting presence in the Far East. Jon Daniels has indicated that the team has interest in Kikuchi, though there’s little indication thus far about the degree of interest the Rangers have, or how aggressive they might be in regards to years and dollars. There seems to be no clear consensus on the type of contract Kikuchi would demand.
The Kikuchi situation could also be impacting the market for Rangers starting pitcher Mike Minor. Minor, a lefty with two years left on his deal, has generated trade interest, though it would seem likely teams interested in Kikuchi would also potentially have interest in Minor. Thus, potential suitors could be waiting to see how the Kikuchi market plays out before getting serious about Minor.