Kyuji Fujikawa Rumors
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.
- Dan Connolly of The Baltimore Sun says that the Orioles can't afford to take a risk like signing Josh Hamilton given their resources relative to the rest of the AL East. Yesterday we heard that Baltimore was targeting Hamilton and Cody Ross in their search for a left fielder.
- The Red Sox have interest in Japanese right-hander Kyuji Fujikawa, reports Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe (on Twitter). The 32-year-old is a true free agent and has been the country's top closer for nearly a decade.
- The Red Sox are casting a wide net in their search for outfield help and even checked in on Grady Sizemore, writes WEEI.com's Rob Bradford. Yesterday we heard that Sizemore will try to play next season after missing all of this year due to injury.
- “Right now we’ve got some gaping holes," said Yankees GM Brian Cashman to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Morosi wrote about the team's challenge of building a competitive roster in 2013 while trying to get under the 2014 luxury tax threshold.
- Ken Davidoff of The New York Post writes that while the Yankees intend to offer him a pay cut, talks with Mariano Rivera should go smoother than they did with Derek Jeter two offseasons ago.
- Yankees right-hander Joba Chamberlain has left the Hendricks Brothers and followed agent Jim Murray to Excel Sports Management, reports Joel Sherman of The New York Post (on Twitter).
- The Red Sox are eyeing Tino Martinez for their hitting coach job, reports Joe McDonald of ESPN Boston. The team is considering hiring two hitting coaches.
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.
Let's kick off the morning with some random links.
- Live chat here today at 2pm CST.
- Brian Matusz is hopeful about striking a deal with the Orioles by Friday's deadline. Roch Kubatko has a source saying it's likely.
- Baseball America's Jim Callis warns us not to listen to the posturing - he still expects all the first-round draft picks to sign with the possible exception of Allan Dykstra.
- Should the Mariners offer Raul Ibanez a three-year deal at $10-11MM per?
- No word yet on possible Rays acquisitions in wake of the Carl Crawford and Evan Longoria injuries. Marc Lancaster wonders if Kenny Lofton or...don't say it...Barry Bonds would make sense.
- The Mets had no interest in Adam Dunn. They wonder about his passion, according to Joel Sherman. Did you know he doesn't like baseball?
- The Phillies were more interested in Casey Blake than Manny Ramirez.
- Athletics Nation looks at some free agent options for '09.
- Shannon Stewart didn't understand his latest Blue Jay Experience.
- The Yankees, Mets, Angels, and Padres have scouts at the Olympics to watch Hitoki Iwase, Koji Uehara, Kenshin Kawakami, Yu Darvish, and Kyuji Fujikawa.
Today's collection of links...
- SI.com's Jon Heyman does not believe Omar Minaya's job is in jeopardy.
- New blog to check out: NPB Tracker. Patrick's goal is to provide a reliable source of information on Japanese leagues to an American audience. He's already got a name for us to watch: reliever Kyuji Fujikawa. He'd like to be posted, but that's up to the Hanshin Tigers.
- Brandon Inge is up for full-time catching in '09, even if it's not his preference.
- The D'Backs discussed an extension with Dan Haren, but talks broke off. They could rekindle. He's signed cheaply through 2010 already.
- The Tigers would've been interested in Barry Bonds if they didn't have Gary Sheffield, according to Jim Leyland.
- Jacque Jones has cleared waivers but hasn't decided whether to accept a minor league assignment from the Marlins.
- RotoAuthority looks at Chase Headley from a fantasy perspective.
- Pretty interesting comments from Bill Bavasi on Erik Bedard. Watch video of Bavasi's press conference here.
Let's kick things off today with odds and ends.
- Charley Walters says that "it wouldn't be surprising" if the Twins go after Josh Fogg for some veteran stability. I could see that.
- I did an interview with Baseball Zealot Radio yesterday, which can be found here in mp3 form.
- Bleeding Blue and Teal talks Mariners with KOMO Radio's Shannon Drayer. One interesting note, she wondered whether the Mariners might start thinking about a long-term deal for Felix Hernandez.
- JapanBall.com says top reliever Kyuji Fujikawa signed with the Hansin Tigers for about $2.64MM. The top-notch closer hoped to be posted, but the Tigers would not honor that request.
- Anyone having problems viewing MLBTradeRumors.com? I few people have emailed me saying it won't load. Let me know in the comments or at email@example.com (which browser you use would be helpful). I am hearing that FireFox users are having problems but clearing cookies and cache should solve them.
- For those wondering, the times on MLBTR are in the Central Standard Time Zone, because that's where I am.