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Kyuji Fujikawa Rumors
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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
- In the wake of the Madson signing, the Angels are letting teams know Jordan Walden is "very available" according to ESPN's Jayson Stark (on Twitter). The 25-year-old right-hander pitched to a 3.46 ERA with 11.1 K/9 and 4.2 BB/9 in 39 innings this year.
- Angels GM Jerry Dipoto would not say whether he was still pursuing Japanese free agent reliever Kyuji Fujikawa, reports Mike DiGiovanna of The Los Angeles Times (on Twitter).
- The Angels will tender contracts to all four arbitration-eligible players according to DiGiovanna (on Twitter). Kendrys Morales, Alberto Callaspo, Jerome Williams, and Kevin Jepsen represent the team's class of arb-eligibles.
- The Angels have claimed shortstop Thomas Field off waivers from the Twins, the team announced. The 25-year-old has hit .260/.315/.260 in 54 plate appearances with the Rockies over the last two years.
- The Padres offered Hiroki Kuroda a one-year deal worth $17-18MM, reports George A. King III of The New York Post. The right-hander instead took a one-year, $15MM deal to return to the Yankees.
- Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports hears Brian Wilson's first choice (aside from the Giants) would be to pitch for the Dodgers next year (Twitter links). Wilson lives in Los Angeles during the offseason and will likely be non-tendered later this week.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.