The Seibu Lions of the Nippon Baseball League announced they will begin the posting process for Japanese left-handed pitcher Yusei Kikuchi on Monday, Dec. 3.
The move was an expected one as the 27-year-old recently hired baseball agent Scott Boras to represent him as he makes his move over to the United States.
Among the teams that could have interest in signing Kikuchi are the Los Angeles Dodgers, who have a history of signing Japanese pitchers like Hideo Nomo, Takashi Saito, Hiroki Kuroda and most recently, Kenta Maeda.
“Obviously, we’ve watched him pitch a lot,” Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said at his annual end-of-the-year press conference. “He’s extremely talented. If and when that becomes an opportunity, we’ll focus more on it.”
Kikuchi put up solid stats for the Lions in 2018, going 14-4 with a 3.08 ERA and 1.03 WHIP over 163.2 innings pitched (23 starts). He missed some time in May with shoulder tightness, which was a factor in a decline in both strikeouts and fastball velocity.
The southpaw had a dominant 2017 season, however, pitching to a 1.97 ERA and 0.91 WHIP in 187.2 innings. Overall in 1035.1 innings in his career with the Lions, Kikuchi yielded a 2.81 ERA with 925 strikeouts.
Under the current MLB posting system, the rules are a bit different than previous years. If the contract he signs is worth $25 million or less, then the posting fee to the Lions is 20 percent of the total guarantee.
If the contract is anywhere between $25 and $50 million, the posting fee moves up to $5 million plus 17.5 percent of the amount above $25 million. Finally, is the contract is north of $50 million then the amount owed is $9.375 million plus 15 percent of the amount above $50 million.
Since Kikuchi is 27 years of age, he can sign a guaranteed contract of any amount, which was not the case when Shohei Ohtani signed with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim last winter.
Once he is posted on Dec. 3, the 30-day negotiating window begins and Kikuchi can speak with any of the 30 MLB teams.