Nov. 18: The Giants announced today that Yamaguchi has indeed been posted (link via the Japan Times). Major League teams will now have 30 days to negotiate with the right-hander.
“I will take a shot at my dream of playing in the majors,” Yamaguchi said at a press conference. “I’d like to express my appreciation to Yomiuri Giants officials, manager Mr. (Tatsunori) Hara, my coaches, teammates and fans for the past three years. I will work even harder as I pursue a new challenge.”
Nov. 17: Right-hander Shun Yamaguchi has asked his team, the Yomiuri Giants, that he be posted and allowed to negotiate with MLB teams, according to reports from Sankei Sports (hat tip to reporter Jim Allen). Notably, the Giants have never posted a player in franchise history, meaning that it would be a considerable step for Yamaguchi to make it stateside.
The 32-year-old Yamaguchi has 14 years of experience in Nippon Professional Baseball, as he broke in with the Yokohama BayStars when he was just 18 years old. After making 11 starts in his first two pro seasons, Yamaguchi was moved to the bullpen, and he posted impressive numbers as Yokohama’s closer from 2009-2012. He began to transition back to starting pitching in 2014, and has worked almost exclusively out of the rotation ever since, culminating in a 2019 season that saw him lead NPB in both strikeouts (188) and wins (15) while pitching 170 innings.
As noted by Allen in a scouting report of Yamaguchi, the righty averages roughly 90.1mph on his fastball, though his top pitch is a splitter. Yamaguchi also has an off-the-field black mark on his resume, as he reportedly shoved a security guard and injured his pitching hand during a drunken incident in July 2017, though Allen notes that this seems to have been an isolated case of bad behavior.
“MLB scouts I’ve spoken to see him as either a back-of-the-rotation starter or a bullpen guy, largely because he has not established his current level of success,” Allen writes. It remains to be seen what type of interest Yamaguchi would draw in this offseason’s free agent market, though it could end up being a moot point if Yomiuri refuses to post him or release him from his contract.