Seattle Mariners: 5 Free Agents That Fit the Rebuild
LHP YUSEI KIKUCHI
We’ve talked about Yusei Kikuchi quite a bit on this site lately and for good reason. Kikuchi, 27, is the perfect free agent target for the Mariners this offseason. Coming off some shoulder issues last season in the NPB, Kikuchi may not be able to make an immediate impact with the M’s. Alas, given his age and the long-term contract he’s expected to sign once he’s posted next week, Kikuchi will have plenty of time to adjust to the MLB and recover health-wise, and the Mariners can afford to let that happen.
Kikuchi’s ceiling appears to be as a #3 starter in most rotations, though his high strikeout capabilities could catapult him into #2 territory. Still, he fits more in the tier of the Kenta Maeda and Hisashi Iwakuma types rather than Yu Darvish and Masahiro Tanaka. That’s still a very nice asset to add towards the beginning of a rebuild, as Kikuchi could wind up hitting his Major League prime by the time the Mariners are ready to compete once again.
The Mariners aren’t the only team that makes sense for Kikuchi, and they’ll likely have a great deal of competition from both rebuilding teams and contenders. As always, Seattle is an attractive destination for Japanese players, though that narrative has slowly started to fade with names such as Tanaka and Shohei Ohtani choosing to play elsewhere. This is definitely a “wait-and-see” situation, but man, does it make a lot of sense for the Mariners.