According to the Japan Times, southpaw pitcher Yusei Kikuchi will be posted during the upcoming week, allowing all 30 MLB clubs to bid for the services of the 27-year-old. And, even though the Dodgers are as stacked as they come with lefty starting pitching, they’re among the many squads to be interested in bidding.
As it stands now, left-handers Clayton Kershaw, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Rich Hill will all be part of the Los Angeles 2019 Opening Day rotation, barring injuries or any unforeseen setbacks. It’s not yet known where 22-year-old lefty Julio Urias will begin the season, but he’ll undoubtedly slot into the rotation at some point in the year. Additionally, southpaws Caleb Ferguson and Alex Wood—who would likely be starters for just about any other club in baseball—will likely begin their 2019 campaigns in the bullpen, so long as they’re both part of the squad. With a potential acquisition of Kikuchi, the Dodgers could conceivably have the most dominant left-handed staff in the bigs, if they don’t already.
Exactly how well Kikuchi adjusts to MLB hitting remains to be seen, but at the moment, he’s widely regarded as the best starting pitcher in all of Japan. He has eight professional seasons under his belt, all with the Saitama Seibu Lions of the Japan Pacific League. He was named a JPL All-Star three times. Last season, Kikuchi posted a 14-4 record with a 3.08 ERA alongside 153 strikeouts and 45 walks in 23 starts over 163-2/3 innings of work. His banner year came in 2017, when he registered a 16-6 record with an impressive 1.97 ERA and a career-high 10.4 K/9 in 187-2/3 innings.
Kikuchi threw for the same high school as Angels’ star Shohei Ohtani. During his career in Japan, he has gone 73-46 with a 2.77 ERA in 158 games—153 which were starts—totaling 903 strikeouts over 1,010-2/3 frames. He’s been especially effective over the last three seasons. From 2016-18, Kikuchi went 42-17 with a 2.51 ERA in 71 starts, with 497 strikeouts in 494-1/3 innings.
Kikuchi can crank his heater into the 96-98 range (which is uncharacteristic of Japanese pitchers), but he’s better known for his diverse repertoire, which features above average offerings of a slider, a splitter and a curveball. Some scouts believe Kikuchi has the ceiling of a No. 2 starter in the MLB.
According to recent reports, in addition to the Dodgers, the Padres, Giants and Mariners have expressed interest in Kukuchi.
He is represented by Scott Boras.
Once posted, teams will have 30 days to negotiate a deal.