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.
$9m over two years to put up less than a replacement player.
Id say this stands as a strong contender for least shocking move of the first day of the offseason.
Easy decision since Fujikawa’s potential production can be easily replaced by a Minor League arm. I would have liked to see him healthy. He had some filthy years in the NPB. Still, it’s disconcerting that so many of the Japanese pitchers are having elbow trouble. The mound angle and firmness are different in MLB than in Japan and I wonder if that’s leading to the problems pitchers are having in the U.S.—and if it will be a continuing trend?