TODAY: MLB Insider Jon Heyman provided some clarification as to the financial specifics today (via Twitter). As presumed yesterday, the posting fee will amount to $1.24MM, while the Rangers will pay out $6.2MM over the course of the two-year contract. Arihara will make $2.6MM in 2021 and $3.6MM in 2022, adds MLB.com’s TR Sullivan (via Twitter).
Dec. 25: The Rangers are in agreement with right-hander Kohei Arihara, reports Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic (Twitter link). It’s a two-year contract in the $6-7MM range, reports Mark Feinsand of MLB.com (via Twitter).
Arihara, 28, has spent the past six seasons with the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters of Nippon Professional Baseball. In 836 career innings at Japan’s highest level, Arihara compiled a 3.74 ERA with 6.7 K/9 against 2.1 BB/9. He has been especially productive over the past two years. Arihara posted a minuscule 2.46 ERA with a career-best 8.8 K/9 in 2019. This past season, he managed a 3.46 mark with 7.2 K/9 across 132.2 innings.
Writing for Baseball America on the heels of Arihara’s peak season in 2019, Jason Coskrey noted that the right-hander works in the low-90’s and primarily leans upon his fastball, changeup and slider. Arihara has up to seven distinct pitches in his arsenal, though, and Coskrey notes he’s adept at using his secondaries to keep opposing hitters off balance. He also has a long history of throwing strikes, not having issued more than 2.2 walks per nine innings pitched in any of his last five NPB seasons.
Arihara’s not known for especially overpowering raw stuff, and that’s been borne out in his relatively low strikeout rates. Shun Yamaguchi, who signed a similar contract with the Blue Jays last offseason, consistently posted heftier strikeout totals over his time in Japan than did Arihara. So too has Tomoyuki Sugano, the higher-profile NPB starter available to MLB teams via the posting system this winter. That could suggest Arihara’s more suited for the back of the rotation, although he figures to have a decent opportunity for innings in Texas.
Kyle Gibson and Jordan Lyles will presumably try to bounce back from dismal 2020 seasons. Dane Dunning will certainly get a rotation job after coming over from the White Sox in the Lance Lynn trade. There’s a lot of uncertainty beyond (and even among) that trio, though. Kolby Allard was knocked around last season and hasn’t yet established himself as a big league caliber starter. Kyle Cody, who never worked more than five innings, was the only other player still on the roster to start multiple games for Texas last season.
In addition to Arihara’s salary, the Rangers will owe the Fighters a release fee under the terms of the MLB-NPB posting system. The Fighters will receive a sum equal to 20 percent of the contract value. Depending upon the contract’s specific terms, that would put the posting fee in the $1.2MM – 1.4MM range. Texas’ total outlay is around $7.5MM, hears Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News (via Twitter).
The Red Sox and Padres were reportedly the other finalists in the bidding for Arihara, whose posting window was set to expire tomorrow. San Diego and Boston will now have to turn elsewhere in their hunt for additional rotation depth.