Kyuji Fujikawa Rumors

Quick Hits: Greinke, Brewers, Hanrahan, Hochevar

The second episode of Rosters and Rumblings, the new podcast featuring MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith and Jason Martinez of MLB Depth Charts, was recorded today. Check out the podcast for analysis of B.J. Upton’s deal with the Braves and the recent contracts for pitchers such as Scott Feldman, Ryan Madson and Andy Pettitte. Here's the latest around the league as Wednesday turns into Thursday…

  • ESPN's Jayson Stark gets the sense that the Zack Greinke bidding won't get serious until the Winter Meetings start in Nashville next week (Twitter link).
  • “We’re making contacts right now … There are a lot of relievers still out there. They sit there and wait until the big guys sign," said Brewers GM Doug Melvin to MLB.com's Adam McCalvy when asked about the team's pursuit of bullpen help.
  • Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan could be on the trade block at the Winter Meetings next week according to Rob Biertempfel of The Pittsburgh Tribune Review (on Sulia).
  • After speaking to people within the organization, Bob Dutton of The Kansas City Star doesn't expect the Royals to non-tender Luke Hochevar (Twitter link). They are shopping him in trades though.
  • Mike DiGiovanna of The Los Angeles Times hears that Japanese free agent reliever Kyuji Fujikawa prefers to pitch for the Angels or Cubs, though the Diamondbacks are still a possibility as well (Twitter link).
  • Minor league free agents can pay big dividends, writes MLB.com's Andrew Simon. He notes the performances of Gregor Blanco and Quintin Berry, who helped the Giants and Tigers to the World Series this year after signing minor league deals, respectively.

SoCal Links: Walden, Angels, Fujikawa, Field, Kuroda

The Angels finalized their contract with Ryan Madson today, but here's some more out of Southern California…


Orioles Have Interest In Koji Uehara & Kameron Loe

The bullpen was a major strength for the Orioles this season, but that doesn't mean they won't look for upgrades this winter. Dan Connolly of The Baltimore Sun hears the team has some interest in Koji Uehara and Kameron Loe.

“He’s on our list, we like him. He’s been here before," said GM Dan Duquette of Uehara, who pitched in Baltimore from 2009 until being traded away at the 2011 deadline. 

The Orioles have inquired about several other relievers including Japanese free agent Kyuji Fujikawa, notes Connolly. Uehara, 37, pitched to a 1.75 ERA with 10.8 K/9 and 0.8 BB/9 in 36 innings for the Rangers last year. Loe, 31, posted a 4.61 ERA with 7.2 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 in 68 1/3 innings for the Brewers. He started his career under Orioles manager Buck Showalter while with Texas.



Diamondbacks Notes: Keppinger, Peralta, Fujikawa

Here's the latest out of Arizona…

  • The D'Backs are interested in free agent infielder Jeff Keppinger, reports Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic.  Keppinger hit .325/.367/.439 in 418 plate appearances with the Rays in 2012 and has a career .864 OPS against left-handed pitching.  Arizona would presumably use Keppinger at third base, though the veteran has played all over the infield in his career.
  • In another post from Piecoro, he says the Diamondbacks would use Jhonny Peralta as a third baseman if they acquired him from the Tigers.  Peralta primarily served as the Indians' third baseman in 2009 and 2010, though he hasn't played at the hot corner since and has a below-average (a -3.1 UZR/150) glove at the position.
  • While the D'Backs were one of the teams who met with free agent closer Kyuji Fujikawa, the Snakes don't "appear to be as interested" in Fujikawa as they were before acquiring Heath Bell from the Marlins, reports MLB.com's Steve Gilbert.

Fujikawa Has 10 Offers; Considering Five Teams

Japanese closer Kyuji Fujikawa visited with five MLB teams this past weekend, and he appears to be moving quickly through the free agent process. Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker (Twitter link) translates a Nikkan Sports piece that reports Fujikawa has offers from 10 Major League clubs and has narrowed his decision process to five teams.

Fujikawa has reportedly met with the Dodgers, Angels, Orioles, Cubs and Diamondbacks. The Rangers are also said to have interest in the 32-year-old, who has been Japan's best closer for the past several years. He is reportedly looking for a multiyear deal on his first foray into Major League Baseball. Because he is a free agent, interested teams are not required to go through the posting process with Fujikawa.

Fujikawa 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, he's allowed just 18 home runs.


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Fujikawa Meets With Five MLB Clubs

Monday: According to Japanese media reports, Fujikawa met with the Angels, Dodgers and Orioles over the weekend (per Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times). DiGiovanna adds that Angels GM Jerry Dipoto wouldn't comment on contract negotiations, nor would he divulge whether or not he envisions Fujikawa as a setup man or closer.

Not surprisingly, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports that Fujikawa is looking for a multiyear commitment wherever he signs (Twitter link).

Saturday: Right-hander Kyuji Fujikawa started meeting with MLB clubs and touring their facilities this past week, reports Gerry Fraley of The Dallas Morning News. He's already visited the Diamondbacks and Cubs and is expected to meet with both the Dodgers and Angels as well. It's unclear if he'll meet with the Rangers on this trip.

Fujikawa, 32, has been the top closer in Japan for nearly a decade and is a true free agent, meaning he won't have to go through the posting process. The Red Sox have expressed some interest in the right-hander in addition to those five clubs above. Tim Dierkes ranked Fujikawa as the 34th best free agent available on his Top 50 Free Agents List, predicting he would sign with the Angels.

MLBTR's Steve Adams contributed to this post.


AL West Notes: Hamilton, Fujikawa, Soria, Ryu

Josh Hamilton's asking price of seven years and $175MM is too rich for the Mariners' blood, but if that price drops to $80-85MM over four or five years, Larry Stone of the Seattle Times feels the M's should make a play for the outfielder.  We heard yesterday that the Mariners were interested in Hamilton, as the club continues to pursue free agent hitters for the less pitcher-friendly Safeco Field.

Some more news from around the AL West…

  • Angels GM Jerry DiPoto said that his team is interested in Japanese right-hander Kyuji Fujikawa and that the feeling is apparently mutual, reports Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times.  Fujikawa has been considered to be Japan's top closer for the better part of a decade and is available to be signed without a posting fee.  The Dodgers and Red Sox have also been rumored to be interested in Fujikawa.
  • The Rangers apparently made a posting bid on Korean left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu, reports Evan P. Grant of the Dallas Morning News (via Twitter), though he doesn't have full confirmation.  Teams had until 4PM CT today to place a bid on Ryu, and if the KBO's Hanwha Eagles accepted the highest bid, Ryu and agent Scott Boras could then negotiate a contract with that MLB team.
  • The Rangers are interested in right-hander Joakim Soria, reports FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi (Twitter link).  At least eight teams have checked in on the former Royals closer thus far, and Soria has also said he would be happy to pitch for the Yankees as Mariano Rivera's set-up man.
  • The Astros project to have a very low payroll in 2013, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  Houston's payroll could be around $30MM, a big drop from the Padres' $55.2MM league-low payroll on Opening Day 2012, though Rosenthal notes that the MLBPA and Commissioner's Office aren't likely to object given that the Astros are in the first stages of a major rebuild.

AL East Links: Orioles, Red Sox, Sizemore, Yankees

The Blue Jays have pulled off a trade, a signing, and a DFA today, all before lunch time where the GM Meetings are being held in California. Here's the latest from the AL East…


Dodgers Notes: League, Fujikawa, Otani

Yesterday, Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti ran down a number of topics during the club's formal introductory press conference for Carl Crawford.  During the presser, Colletti said that the Dodgers would target both starting and relief pitching this winter, plus outfield depth.  Here's more out of Los Angeles from Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times..

  • Colletti reiterated that Brandon League has interest in returning to the Dodgers and the club would like to keep him.  League's representatives told Hernandez that the two sides are currently discussing a three-year pact.  The 29-year-old is able to hit the open market for the first time after earning $5MM in his final season as an arbitration eligible player.
  • People familiar with the Dodgers' thinking say they are interested in Japanese free-agent reliever Kyuji Fujikawa.  The right-hander boasts a mid-90s fastball and has been considered the Japanese league's top closer in recent years.  Fujikawa is expected to pitch in the major leagues next season after recently completing his contract with the Hanshin Tigers.
  • The Dodgers are also known to be in on 18-year-old Shohei Otani along with the Red Sox and Rangers.  Hernandez notes that the Dodgers may have to approach the situation carefully as they have a longstanding relationship with Japanese baseball.  The Nippon Ham Fighters, who selected Otani first overall in the NPB draft, have until the end of March to negotiate with him.  Any team that signs him before then could hurt MLB's relationship with the top league in Japan.
  • The Dodgers are still looking for a hitting coach and Mickey Hatcher, who assisted Dave Hansen late this year, is not in the mix.

Odds and Ends: Ibanez, Dunn, Blake, Stewart

Let’s kick off the morning with some random links.