TODAY: The Blue Jays’ deal with Yamaguchi is official. They’ve signed the right-hander to a two-year, $6.35MM deal, per Scott Mitchell of TSN Sports (via Twitter).
3:35pm: There’s a deal in place, per Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca (via Twitter).
2:59pm: The Blue Jays appear to be pressing hard to add Japanese hurler Shun Yamaguchi. According to Sanspo.com (Japanese language link), the sides are closing in on a two-year deal that would pay him around $3MM annually if it’s finalized.
If the sides wrap things up, the Toronto organization will owe the Yomiuri Giants twenty percent of the total guarantee as a transfer fee. Japan’s marquee organization formally posted Yamaguchi on December 3rd.
Yamaguchi, a 32-year-old forkballer, has had plenty of success in Japan’s top league as both a starter and reliever. Once a star closer for the Yokohama BayStars, Yamaguchi has more recently taken the ball to open games for Yomiuri. Last year, working from the rotation, he delivered 170 frames of 2.91 ERA ball with 10.0 K/9 against 3.2 BB/9.
It stands to reason that the starter-needy Blue Jays will at least give Yamaguchi a shot at winning a rotation job out of camp. But the club could also certainly be in the market for relief help, so its intentions aren’t yet clear. Odds are the Jays are drawn in no small part to Yamaguchi’s versatility. He has plenty of experience locking up saves in NPB so could even ultimately be called upon in a high-leverage role if the circumstances warrant.