It’s already been reported in Japan that the Seibu Lions intend to post ace left-hander Yusei Kikuchi for Major League teams this offseason, but the pitcher himself said after his team was eliminated from the postseason that he has not yet made a firm decision (link via Jason Coskrey of the Japan Times). “Well, the season just ended,” Kikuchi said. “…Regarding the future, it’s not all up to me. I haven’t had a chance to talk with the team.” Kikuchi, 27, added that he needs to spend time with his family to ponder the decision before making any firm request. Coskrey writes that the Lions have publicly acknowledged that they would honor Kikuchi’s request if he ultimately wishes to be posted. Kikuchi turned in 163 2/3 innings of 3.08 ERA ball with 8.4 K/9 against 2.5 BB/9 for the Lions this season. In 1035 1/3 career innings in Japan, the three-time All-Star has a 2.81 ERA with 8.0 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 — including a combined 2.58 ERA over the past four seasons.
If he is posted, Kikuchi would be free of international spending restrictions and could negotiate with all 30 MLB clubs on a contract. The new posting system between MLB and NPB would require Kikuchi’s new team to pay a fee equal to 20 percent of his contract’s first $25MM, plus 17.5 percent of his next $25MM and 15 percent of anything beyond that (including incentives, option buyouts, etc.).
A few more notes on the international market…
- The Marlins spent virtually all of their international bonus pool on brothers Victor Victor Mesa and Victor Mesa Jr., meaning right-hander Sandy Gaston almost certainly won’t be joining the Miami organization. Jorge Ebro of El Nuevo Herald reports that Gaston’s camp is seeking a bonus north of $2MM for the 17-year-old flamethrower, with both the Orioles and Rays listed as potential landing spots. Baltimore has a reported sum of near $6.5MM left to spend on international amateurs, while Tampa Bay’s remaining international pool is in the $3.5MM range at present.
- The White Sox have signed infielder Enoy Jimenez, the 17-year-old younger brother of top prospect Eloy Jimenez, reports Ben Badler of Baseball America (via Twitter). Scouting information on the younger Jimenez brother is virtually nonexistent, though it should be noted that the White Sox are barred from spending more than $300K on any international amateur signing due to their pool-shattering $26MM agreement with Luis Robert from the 2016-17 signing period, meaning Enoy couldn’t have received an especially large bonus. That certainly doesn’t mean that Enoy isn’t without upside — many high-profile Latin American players sign for only a few thousand dollars — but whatever the exact amount of the bonus was, it undoubtedly falls well shy of the $2.8MM the Cubs paid to sign Eloy back in 2013.