In the time leading up to the Winter Meetings, the Los Angeles Dodgers remained in the picture for a potential trade for Giancarlo Stanton, or possible signing of Shohei Ohtani. Because of luxury tax concerns, the latter always seemed more probable.
But Ohtani stunned the baseball world by agreeing to a contract with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. That left Stanton as the next domino who was expected to fall, and that came on the first day of the Winter Meetings as he was traded to the New York Yankees.
Throughout the past week, Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi maintained the club was in strong standing and not in desperate need of new additions.
They also agreed on the focal point lying with the bullpen, which annually is a concern and priority for Friedman. Brandon Morrow, a key contributor this past season, moved on as he agreed to a two-year contract with the Chicago Cubs.
As the Dodgers look to fill out the final spots in their bullpen, one option is Yoshihisa Hirano, according to Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports:
Dodgers appear to be targeting Japanese right-hander Yoshihisa Hirano for bullpen help. 33-yr-old had a 2.67 ERA in 58 games for Orix last season.
— Tim Brown (@TBrownYahoo) December 15, 2017
In 11 seasons with the Orix Buffaloes, Hirano went 48-69 with 156 saves, a 3.10 ERA and 1.16 WHIP. He set a career high with 40 saves in 2014, but only recorded 12 the following year, 31 in 2016, and 29 this season.
Hirano’s strikeouts per nine innings have declined in each of the past two seasons — 8.4 and 7.4, respectively — since tying a career-best mark at 11.3 in 2015. Hirano worked as a starting pitcher in the first three seasons of his career, but struggled in the role.
Hirano went 1-0 with a 3.38 ERA, 0.56 WHIP and seven strikeouts in 5.1 innings across six games in this year’s World Baseball Classic. He faced Team USA in the semifinal at Dodger Stadium, and struck out Nolan Arenado swinging, the only batter faced.
Because of his age, Hirano will turn 34 years old in March, and 11 years of experience, he’s not subject to international bonus pools. Meaning, the Dodgers aren’t limited to offering a maximum of a $300,000 signing bonus as they were with Ohtani.
Another difference between the two is, Hirano is an international free agent. Therefore, a posting fee is not required to be paid to Orix.