Milwaukee Brewers General Manager David Stearns intimated at the Winter Meetings that the team will be involved in the market for Japanese pitcher Yusei Kikuchi.
Tom Haudricourt reported Stearns’ interest, noting that the GM told reporters that the team has an “extensive history” of scouting the pitcher. Stearns also takes the time to acknowledge how difficult it can be to lure in a young foreign pitcher who may be more interested in a place like Seattle or Los Angeles. Per Stearns, “generally those types of players command a large amount of money and can dictate where they want to go.”
Kikuchi is a 27-year-old lefty who pitched eight seasons for the Seibu Lions. In over 1,000 innings, he’s allowed a 2.81 ERA, 1.177 WHIP, 8 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9. His scouting report has him sitting in the low 90s with his fastball, a plus slider and curveball, and a changeup. He profiles as a middle of the rotation starter, potentially even a number two.
The big concern with Kikuchi is linked to shoulder issues he’s had the last few seasons. Add in the difficulty in converting NPB performances to MLB and it becomes hard to gauge his true value.
Kikuchi ranks as FanGraphs’ 14th-best free agent and MLB Trade Rumors 12th-best. MLB Trade Rumors predicts he’ll sign a 6 year, $42 million contract.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference