Kyuji Fujikawa Rumors

Cubs Decline Option On Kyuji Fujikawa

The Cubs have declined a $5.5MM club option over righty Kyuji Fujikawa, Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune tweets. Fujikawa will take home a $500K buyout as he hits the open market.

The 34-year-old struggled with injury issues and was never the pitcher the Cubs hoped when they signed him out of Japan. Across the last two years, he owns a 5.04 ERA over just 25 innings. He does have an impressive 11.2 K/9 against 2.9 BB/9 in that stretch, but he was rather homer prone this year.

While it will be hard to commit much to Fujikawa given his age and recent Tommy John procedure, that strikeout tally is hard to ignore. And he had a long run of durable success in the NPB before the Cubs brought him to the majors.


2015 Vesting Options Update

The state of next year’s free agent class will be impacted by whether or not players with vesting options in their contracts achieve the necessary playing time to trigger those conditional options. As we near the end of the season, here’s a rundown of these players and their progress toward triggering their options …

  • Nick Punto, Athletics: Punto has a $2.75MM club option that will automatically vest if he spends fewer than 30 days on the disabled list, assistant GM David Forst told reporters at the time of the signing. Though Forst did add that there are other ways for Punto’s option to vest, the health route is no longer available. Punto was only activated yesterday — ten days into the September active roster expansion — after going on the DL on August 3rd. If the option doesn’t vest, the A’s have the choice of picking him up at $2.75MM or buying him out for $250K.
  • Rickie Weeks, Brewers: Weeks has an $11.5MM option that won’t be vesting, as he would have needed to total 600 PA in 2014 or 1,200 PA in 2013-14 and finish the season healthy. He has just 255 PAs on the season, so he’ll fall well shy of that mark. Weeks will also fall shy of reaching 400 PAs, which would have entitled him to a $1MM buyout of his option.
  • Jimmy Rollins, Phillies: Rollins’ option vested earlier this year when he reached 1,100 plate appearances over 2013-14. (He has also made 600 trips to bat in 2014, an independent basis for triggering the provision.) That clause, however, also required that he not finish the year on the disabled list, and Rollins left yesterday’s game with a hamstring injury. Word is that Rollins should be able to return, but with just three weeks left even a minor setback could well end his season. Nevertheless, Philadelphia would need to go out of its way to place him on the DL at this point, with active rosters expanded. And, in any event, the option would still vest if a mutually agreed-upon doctor deemed Rollins ready to start the 2015 season.
  • Dan Haren, Dodgers: Haren needs 180 innings to trigger a $10MM player option for the 2015 season. Heading into his scheduled outing this evening, he has already notched 162 frames. Haren should be in line for at least three more starts (including tonight’s) before the end of the month, and maybe another depending upon how the club approaches the last few games of the year. Having averaged 5.79 innings per start on the year, it will be incumbent on Haren to pitch his way to the option — especially in the midst of a playoff race and backed by a well-stocked bullpen.
  • Mike Adams, Phillies: Adams’ $6MM club option for 2015 would have vested with 60 innings pitched in 2014, but he’s obviously not going to get there with just 17 2/3 innings in the tank. Adams has thrown just 42 2/3 innings in his season-and-a-half with the Phils, and it seems highly unlikely that the team will pick him up at $6MM given his injury troubles. He should, however, be an attractive buy-low candidate given his general success when on the field.
  • Rafael Soriano, Nationals: Soriano’s $14MM club option vests with 120 games finished over 2013-14. While that always seemed a longshot, any realistic hope was snuffed out when Soriano lost his closing gig to Drew Storen, the man he replaced when he signed on with Washington. Whether or not Soriano makes it back into the 9th inning role over the next few weeks, he now sits at 104 games finished over the last two seasons, making it all but impossible for him to trigger the vesting provision. With the Nationals all but certain to decline their club option on Soriano, he should make for an interesting free agent to watch.
  • Kyuji Fujikawa, Cubs: The Cubs hoped that Fujikawa, one of the best relievers in Japanese history, would help to fortify their bullpen when they signed him to a two-year, $9.5MM contract in the 2012-13 offseason. Instead, both player and team received a hefty dose of bad luck when Fujikawa needed Tommy John surgery after just 12 innings last season. He has a vesting option based on games finished, but the 33-year-old has made it back for only 10 1/3 innings in 2014 and surely won’t be crossing that (unreported) threshold.
  • Sean Burnett, Angels: Burnett’s $4.5MM club option vests if he appears in a total of 110 games between 2013-14, but like Fujikawa, he’s been plagued by injury and has no chance of that happening. Burnett has appeared in just 16 games total over the past two seasons and underwent Tommy John surgery earlier this year. The Halos will certainly be paying the $500K buyout on his club option.
  • Scott Downs, White Sox: Downs had a $4MM vesting option that would have vested with 55 appearances, as MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes reported in June (via Twitter). Though he appeared to be headed in that direction earlier in the year, the White Sox cut bait with Downs and his then-6.08 ERA. He owns a 3.55 mark over 12 2/3 innings with the Royals — who signed him to a separate, minor-league deal — and has now thrown in 53 games, but the vesting clause is now a moot point.

2015 Vesting Options Update

The state of next year’s free agent class will be impacted by whether or not players with vesting options in their contracts achieve the necessary playing time to trigger those conditional options. Here’s a rundown of these players and their progress toward triggering their options…

  • Nick Punto: Punto has a $2.75MM club option that will automatically vest if he spends fewer than 30 days on the disabled list, assistant GM David Forst told reporters at the time of the signing. He did add that there are other ways for Punto’s option to vest, though for the time being, he’s on pace to see his option vest simply due to the fact that he’s avoided the DL entirely. If the option doesn’t vest, the A’s have the choice of picking him up at $2.75MM or buying him out for $250K.
  • Rickie Weeks: Weeks has an $11.5MM option that won’t be vesting, as he would need to total 600 PA in 2014 or 1,200 PA in 2013-14 and finish the season healthy. He’s being platooned heavily with Scooter Gennett and has just 112 PAs on the season, so he’ll fall well shy of that mark. Should he reach 400 PAs (which only seems likely in the event of Gennett injury), Weeks would be entitled to a $1MM buyout of his option.
  • Jimmy Rollins: Rollins’ option vests if he reaches 600 PA in 2014 or if he totals 1,100 options from 2013-14 and finishes the season on the active roster. He’s 141 PA shy of that combined 1,100 number, meaning he’s highly likely to end up with an $11MM guarantee for 2015.
  • Dan Haren: If Haren pitches 180 innings or more in 2014, he triggers a $10MM player option for the 2015 season. He’s averaging just over six innings per start, so he’s on pace to clear that mark given 30-31 starts. However, if he finishes the season anywhere near his current 3.54 ERA, he may prefer to test the open market in search of a multi-year deal.
  • Mike Adams: Adams’ $6MM club option for 2015 vests with 60 innings pitched in 2014, but he’s once again on the disabled list for the Phillies and has thrown just 17 innings. Adams has thrown 42 innings in his season-and-a-half with the Phils, and it seems highly unlikely that they would pick him up at $6MM given his injury troubles.
  • Rafael Soriano: Soriano’s $14MM club option will vest if he finishes 120 games combined in 2013-14. He’s currently at 81 games finished on the season, meaning he’d need to finish a rather unlikely 39 of his team’s final 92 games (42 percent) this season. Should the option vest, half of his salary will be deferred and paid in annual installments from 2018-25.
  • Kyuji Fujikawa: The Cubs hoped that Fujikawa, one of the best relievers in Japanese history, would help to fortify their bullpen when they signed him to a two-year, $9.5MM contract in the 2012-13 offseason. Instead, both player and team received a hefty dose of bad luck when Fujikawa needed Tommy John surgery after just 12 innings last season. He has a vesting option based on games finished, but the 33-year-old hasn’t pitched in 2014 and surely won’t be crossing that threshold.
  • Sean Burnett: Burnett’s $4.5MM club option vests if he appears in a total of 110 games between 2013-14, but like Fujikawa, he’s been plagued by injury and has no chance of that happening. Burnett has appeared in just 16 games total over the past two seasons and underwent Tommy John surgery earlier this month. The Halos will certainly be paying the $500K buyout on his club option.
  • Scott Downs: Downs has a $4MM vesting option, and while the specifics haven’t been reported, Ken Rosenthal noted at the time of the deal that it would vest were Downs to pitch “a normal workload.” He’s headed in that direction, as he’s on pace for his highest innings total since 2011. Downs has pitched to a 5.48 ERA in his 23 innings, so the White Sox may not wish to see that option vest. Then again, he has a 3.95 ERA dating back to May 3, so he’s shown some signs of improvement.


Minor Moves: Cubs, Gonzalez, Russell

We’ll keep track of today’s minor transactions here, with the newest moves at the top of the page…

  • The Cubs moved right-hander Kyuji Fujikawa to the 60-day disabled list today, creating a 40-man roster spot for Chris Coghlan, the club announced.  (Southpaw Zac Rosscup was optioned to Triple-A to make room for Coghlan on the 25-man roster.)  Fujikawa underwent Tommy John surgery last June and isn’t expected back on the mound until at least midseason.  In making the Cubs’ Major League roster, Coghlan will now earn $800K as per the minor league contract he signed with Chicago in January, and he has another $250K available to him in incentives.
  • The Padres have acquired shortstop Benji Gonzalez from the Pirates for cash or a player to be named later, Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune tweets. Gonzalez, a seventh-round pick in 2008, hit .232/.314/.294 for Class A+ Bradenton in 2013. The Padres have assigned him to Lake Elsinore, which is at the same level.
  • The Reds have signed pitcher Adam Russell to a minor-league deal, MLB Daily Dish’s Chris Cotillo tweets. The Diamondbacks released Russell in March. In 2013, the 31-year-old posted a 2.37 ERA with 8.8 K/9 and 4.9 BB/9 in 60 2/3 innings for the Orioles’ Triple-A Norfolk affiliate. He has pitched for the White Sox, Padres and Rays, last appearing in the big leagues in 2011.

Kyuji Fujikawa To Undergo Tommy John Surgery

Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer told reporters, including the Chicago Tribune's Paul Sullivan, that right-hander Kyuji Fujikawa will undergo Tommy John surgery (Twitter link). Sullivan adds (also on Twitter) that the injury is not a result of Fujikawa's two-inning appearance over the weekend. Hoyer informed reporters that Fujikawa's elbow popped on one pitch to Cincinnati's Joey Votto.

The 32-year-old Fujikawa was a significant offseason signing for the Cubs. A legendary closer in Japan, he signed a two-year deal worth $9.5MM with a vesting option for the 2015 season. In 12 innings for the Cubs this season, he's allowed seven runs but also fanned 14 against just two walks. The loss of Fujikawa is a significant blow to an already struggling Cubs bullpen.

Manager Dale Sveum told Sullivan that it's too early to worry about who will handle the ninth inning for the Cubs in 2014, but Fujikawa was signed with that role in mind (Twitter link).


Cubs To Sign Kyuji Fujikawa

The Cubs announced that they have reached an agreement with Japanese closer Kyuji Fujikawa.  The two-year, $9.5MM contract includes a club/vesting option for 2015.

Fujikawa will receive a $1MM signing bonus, $4MM in salary for 2013 and '14, plus a vesting option at $5.5MM or $6MM based on games finished.  If the option does not vest, it turns to a $5.5MM club option with a $500K buyout.  In total, Fujikawa has a guaranteed $9.5MM when including the buyout.

It was reported last week that Fujikawa was nearing a decision with the Halos in the lead.  At least ten teams offered the hurler along the way, including the Dodgers, Orioles, and Diamondbacks.  Over the past six seasons with the Hanshin Tigers, the 32-year-old record 202 saves while posting a 1.36 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 12.4 K/9, and 2.3 BB/9 in 369 2/3 innings.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported the agreement and the details of the deal.  Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported the total value of the deal.


Central Notes: Reds, Chicago, Brewers, Pirates, Twins

Here are the latest news and notes from the NL and AL Central divisions:


Cubs Notes: Fujikawa, Angels, Marmol

Earlier today, the Cubs agreed to sign Japanese closer Kyuji Fujikawa to a two-year deal.  While Theo Epstein & Co. have been known to be in the mix, the signing was something of a surprise the Angels were widely considered the frontrunners for his services.  Here's more on the Cubs..

  • The Cubs' signing of Fujikawa could lead to the Cubs and Angels revisiting a possible Carlos Marmol trade, tweets Jim Bowden of ESPN.com.  The two sides appeared to have struck a deal with Dan Haren heading to Chicago, but the Cubs ultimately backed out of the trade.  Haren, of course, is now a free agent after the Angels declined his option for 2013.
  • Fujikawa can also make $2MM per year in performance bonuses on top of the $9.5MM he'll earn in the two year deal, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets.  The contract also includes a vesting option for year three that turns to a team option if requirements are not met.
  • The Cubs did not sign Fujikawa in order to flip him for something else, tweets David Kaplan of CSNChicago.com.  The club likes his skill set and will also work to upgrade the pitching staff with more moves on the horizon.
  • The Cubs will also head to Nashville in search of a rightfielder and a third baseman, though the latter will be tough to fill, Kaplan tweets.

Fujikawa Nearing Decision, Angels Front-Runners

Japanese free agent Kyuji Fujikawa is nearing a decision according to Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports (on Twitter). Brown hears the Angels are the front-runners.

Fujikawa, 32, has only posted an ERA higher than 1.63 once since 2007. Over the past six seasons with the Hanshin Tigers, he has 202 saves to go along with an eye-popping 1.36 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 12.4 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 in 369 2/3 innings. In that time, the right-hander has allowed just 18 home runs. At least ten teams have made Fujikawa an offer.


Angels Continue To Pursue Pitching

The Angels could shift their focus away from top free agent starting pitching and pursue relief depth if Zack Greinke’s asking price increases beyond their limit, Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times reports. Adding Japanese right-hander Kyuji Fujikawa to the bullpen might provide the Angels with enough depth to avoid spending on Greinke and other free agents whose asking prices could increase when Greinke signs.

Instead, DiGiovanna writes, the Angels might pursue less costly starters such as Ryan Dempster and Joe Saunders. They appear to have interest in Dempster, who seeks a three-year contract.

The Angels are one of the top suitors for Greinke, along with the Dodgers, Nationals and Rangers, Jim Bowden of ESPN.com and MLB Network Radio reports (all Twitter links). However, the Angels haven’t made a play on Anibal Sanchez or Kyle Lohse, according to Bowden. The Angels, Rangers, Red Sox and White Sox are among the teams in play for free agent reliever Mike Adams, Bowden reports.