Seattle Mariners Rumors: Yusei Kikuchi visiting Seattle, contract offer expected
By Ty Gonzalez
Only a handful of hours remain until the clock strikes midnight and 2018 becomes a thing of the past. But not even the celebration of New Year’s Eve can keep Jerry Dipoto from working to make the Mariners a better ballclub in 2019.
Left-handed starting pitcher Yusei Kikuchi has quietly become one of the offseason’s most prized targets, and the Mariners appear to be in the mix to snag the 27-year-old Japanese ace. Monday night, Greg Johns of MLB.com reported that Kikuchi is set to visit Seattle in what should be his last stop before making his decision.
That decision will have to come by Wednesday afternoon, exactly 30 days removed from his posting by the Seibu Lions.
In eight seasons with Seibu, Kikuchi notched a 2.81 career ERA and an 8.00 K/9. In his last two seasons, however, he’s dealt with some shoulder concerns that have limited his market.
While he’s pitched at an ace level in the Japan Pacific League, Kikuchi more so projects to be a third or fourth option in most MLB rotations. Kikuchi isn’t the superstar that Shohei Ohtani was, and still is. But the southpaw brings a solid toolset that should play well in the MLB in a similar fashion to that of Kenta Maeda.
The Mariners are rebuilding with eyes set towards 2020 and 2021, and a potential signing of Kikuchi doesn’t change that whatsoever. In fact, it just reaffirms that notion even further. At just 27, Kikuchi is expected to sign something in the range of a six-year contract, which would line up perfectly with the Mariners’ desired timeline.
Reports out of Japan indicate that the Mariners are a serious player for Kikuchi, referring to them as one of his top choices. Rough translations of a Yahoo! News Topics article seem to signal that the Mariners are gearing up to offer Kikuchi a six-year deal.
Jerry Dipoto has been very open about how strong his interest in Kikuchi is, so it’d be shocking if they were to low-ball him in any way with their offer. With this likely being the final team Kikuchi meets with before Wednesday, all signs look to be pointing to him becoming a Seattle Mariner.
This will be a relatively fast-developing story, so stay tuned to SoDo Mojo as more information comes our way.