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Angels could target Yusei Kikuchi now that he’s been posted by the Seibu Lions

Is Kikuchi the next Shohei Ohtani?

Melbourne Aces v Brisbane Bandits Photo by Hamish Blair/Getty Images

Let’s go ahead and take care of one question right away - no, Yusei Kickuchi is not the next Shohei Ohtani. First, Kikuchi is 27, is 3 years older than Ohtani. Second, he is not a two-way player. Third, he has his natural UCL still intact. Too soon?

The cost of acquiring Kikuchi is a moving number based on his age and new posting rules that went into effect this off-season. Ohtani was subject to International spending restrictions because of his age, but Kikuchi is not. Teams will need to negotiate a contact with Kikuchi and then pay the Seibu Lions a fee based on that contract:

  • Contract worth $25 million or less: 20 percent of total guarantee
  • Contract worth $25 million and $50 million: $5 million plus 17.5 percent of amount over $25 million
  • Contract worth $50 million: $9.375 million plus 15 percent of amount over $50 million

Why would the Angels want him?

Kikuchi has been NPB’s best pitcher the last few seasons and has been pretty durable as well, tossing 350.4 innings over the past two years. Over his career, he’s logged 1035.1 innings with 925 Ks and a 2.81 ERA in 8 seasons.

Like most Japanese pitchers, Kikuchi has a nice arsenal of pitches. His fastball sits in the mid 90s, and he throws a curve, slider, and splitter that are all above average pitches.

Can they land him?

It’s unknown if Ohtani would welcome Kikuchi into the fold, given that he came to MLB last year looking for a team that didn’t have a Japanese star already on their roster. But now that he has arrived, that may be a moot point AND it may have just been a rumor as well.

Scott Boras could be a factor in that his being involved should drive up the price on Kikuchi and push it up to teams with larger payrolls. However, there may be an appeal for Kikuchi to play in Anaheim and throw alongside Shohei Ohtani while taking the field with the greatest player in the game - Mike Trout.

Certainly the Angels could benefit from a strong lefty arm on the roster, and so far they have been very silent on the starting pitcher front. Of course Billy Eppler always plays it close to the vest and if he is indeed in on Kikuchi, we probably won’t catch any wind of it until the signing is announced. Go get him Billy!