The 30-day posting window for right-hander Kohei Arihara is set to close on December 26, and Arihara is apparently set to choose between three MLB teams. According to reports out of Japan, the Padres, Rangers, and Red Sox are the finalists for Arihara’s services.
San Diego was the only team known to have interest in Arihara, though it isn’t any surprise that pitching-needy teams like Texas and Boston are also looking into the 28-year-old. Interestingly, the Padres, Rangers, and Red Sox have also been linked to Tomoyuki Sugano, another high-profile NPB name on the market. Sugano’s posting window doesn’t close until January 7, so it’s possible that whichever team lands Arihara could drop out of the race for Sugano.
Comparisons between the two pitchers are inevitable, and Sugano certainly has the more successful track record in Nippon Professional Baseball, as a two-time Sawamura Award winner and one of the better pitchers in the entire league over the last decade. Sugano is also 31, however, while Arihara doesn’t turn 29 until August. Arihara would also presumably be available at a lower price tag, which is certainly a factor for any team in this offseason.
Arihara has a 3.74 ERA, 3.23 K/BB rate, and 6.7 K/9 over 836 innings for the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters. After winning Pacific League Rookie Of The Year honors in 2015, Arihara had a strong sophomore campaign in 2016 before his production took a dip in 2017-18. He righted the ship with his finest season, as Arihara has a 2.46 ERA and 8.8 K/9 (both career bests) over 164 1/3 frames for the Fighters in 2019.
As per a scouting report from Will Hoefer of the Sports Info Solutions blog after that big 2019 season, Arihara has a plus changeup, and a fastball that can touch 95mph (though Arihara prefers to mix speeds to keep batters guessing). Arihara has good command over these two pitches “and a slider that flashes plus,” and Hoefer projects the righty as “a middle of the rotation starter for an MLB team.”
Such an arm would surely be attractive to the three reported finalists. The Padres are looking for rotation help in the wake of Mike Clevinger’s Tommy John surgery, and the Rangers and Red Sox are both looking for live arms just to fill out a rotation after their pitchers largely struggled in 2020. In Texas, Arihara would slot in alongside veterans Kyle Gibson and Jordan Lyles, with newly-acquired Dane Dunning also tabbed for a rotation spot after being acquired in the Lance Lynn trade. Boston’s pitching staff is even more open, given the uncertainty over how Eduardo Rodriguez will bounce back from the health problems that kept him off the mound in 2020, the ever-present injury concerns for Nathan Eovaldi, and an overall lack of experience among other starting options.
According to the MLB/NPB posting system, Arihara has been free to negotiate with any Major League club over his 30-day period, and once he signs with a team, that team will owe the Fighters a release fee that will vary based on the size of Arihara’s contract. The Fighters will receive a sum of 20 percent of a contract’s first $25MM, and then 17.5 percent of the next $25MM, and 15 percent of any dollars spent beyond the $50MM threshold.
Let’s go Rangers!. need this arm for our rotation
FredMcGriff for the HOF
What? no Blue Jays as finalists????
I see Boston then Texas for Arihara pitcher,
Estaría bien para los pobres texas rangers.
Get rid of the softball players
My guess is boston gets him
Who was the last player Boston got?
The Padres will sign him
“Who was last player Boston got? Matt Andriese
Red Sox will sign him
There is always a pre-written paragraph whenever the Red Sox are connected to a pitcher. Blah blah Sale blah blah blah Rodriguez blah blah Eovaldi blah blah. At least Blake Swihart doesn’t come up anymore.
He will. The Hall of Fame voting is next month.
And you know there will be that ONE voter that keeps it from being unanimous…
probably a Yankees fan
Isn’t that awful though? These writers are bigger babies than some of the players with the biggest egos! Should be voted in by your peers, no a-hole writers..
hey, dont forget about rob refsnyder,tyler wade,greg bird,addison russell,kyle schwarber and all the other hall of fame candidate too
i dont think anyone even said that jokingly about Wade, Russell, or Schwarber
Refsnyder is the goat, how dare you insult him
2015-2016 cubs bandwagon fan said it
There was a Cubs’ here last year that spoke of Schwarber like he was the second coming.
Well, he was visited at birth by 3 Wise Men….of course, they were from Mara Lago…..
Why rewrite something when you already have the template?!
Blake Swihart isn’t a pitcher.
Isn’t much at any position it seems..
I really hope we steer clear of Arihara. Sugano is who I still want, and even though Arihara throws harder than him, Sugano is better. Go get em San Diego!
I think Sugano is going west coast. I want Arihara for the innings.
When is Sugano’s deadline up? I’m guessing we’ll hear about Arihara’s choice sometime later today. I want to know where Kim ends up signing.
both to the Rangers. Arihara 2 and 14 and Kim 6 and 48 with incentive to make it up to 60
Sugano’s deadline is Jan 7.
How do you know?
Arihara will get lit up like a Christmas tree in the States.
Oh, yeah, Merry Christmas.
Come on now. Let’s not start talking about topical creams. There might be children commenting.
I’ll show myself out.
FredMcGriff for the HOF
If people are letting their children register and comment on MLBTR then shame on them.
A multi-year deal for (almost) any starting pitcher is risky, but even more so when they’re coming to MLB from NPB or KBO. Put that money elsewhere, Rangers!
I learned today that the Nippon Ham Fighters are not the “ham fighters” but rather the “fighters”, sponsored by the Nippon Ham company. This bummed me out slightly.
And did they battle against other pork products too? Yes truly this was truly a disappointment to learn….
Love the ‘Ham Fighters’ name. I’ll keep calling them that.
Ducky Buckin Fent
It’s just like Santa Claus, @sports brah.
It’s a lot more fun not knowing.
I learned that years ago but still praise the team for keeping the ambiguously funny name.
Now I’m sad too.
So they don’t have Taylor made double plays?
I see what you did there…
I will pretend like I didn’t read this
The Rangers should import a lot of Japanese and Korean players. Might build the first all Asian roster while waiting for their limited farm system to produce.
By the time they are contenders with their farm hands, they will have already relocated to Asia
I was hoping that we could re-sign Choo, not only to try and attract Korean players *cough cough… Kim*, but also to send him into retirement with fans in the stands. I think that’d be so cool.
Sox need starters. Hope he chooses them
Righthander Kohei Arihara is a year older than Yusei Kikuchi was two years ago when the lefthander signed with the Seattle Mariners. Their lines from Japan’s Pacific League:
KA 129 G, 836 IP, 3.74 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 3.23 K/BB. 817 H, 626 K, 194 BB
YK 195 G, 1010.2 IP, 2.77 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 2.43 K/BB, 810 H, 903 K, 371 BB
i think its reasonable to expect Kikuchi to adjust better, this is a big point. Arihara’s track record is pedstrian at best. i cant see the appeal frankly.
Peart of the game
Arihara is basically Mike Leake and Kikuchi showed massive improvement in 2020 in his strikeout, walk and groundball rates. Kikuchi should be an Ace caliber pitcher and Gonzales should make a great #2 with the Mariners.
Padres need to steer clear unless this is for low money. He’s going to be Makita 2.0. Focus on Sugano if we can afford him.
Peart of the game
Makita wasn’t bad, but they’re two very different pitchers. Makita averaged 80 mph on his fastball and had a very unusual delivery.
Makita was atrocious
Yeah this isn’t really comparable to Makita at all. He was a novelty type 80 mph submarine reliever, and Arihara is a younger conventional approach starter.
Makita also really wasn’t that expensive (although there was never really any upside to him) so it wasn’t that big of a deal. I’m not really worried about Arihara being so bad he’s unusable like Makita was, I’m more worried about him getting paid too much and then ending up as a swingman type not a mid rotation piece.
How could the Rangers be considered a finalist for anyone with their AAA roster?
its called money…
Peart of the game
Arihara would probably be the #2 behind Gibson in the Rangers rotation.
In the Padres Rotation he would be behind Lamet and Davies, maybe Paddack too.
The Red Sox he would be the #2 behind Eovaldi unless Rodriguez is ready to go,
For the Red Sox, I’d much prefer Sugano to this guy, but either one would be a great improvement over the chumps they ran out there last season!
If we got a good deal, okay. But I’d also like to go cheap and short with Hill.
I’d love to see them get Hill too, but if they do that, they’d have to get another starter as well to offset the IL stints that Hill will have. Maybe a combination of Hill & Kluber could get them 250 total Innings of quality pitching. I’d be all for that (instead of Arihara or Sugano) provided that Kluber’s medicals come back clean and the price points are reasonable as well. Adding Hill, Kluber and one of Rosenthal, Treinen or Yates (again if healthy) would really change the outlook of the 2021 Red Sox. They could then add another OF or 2B and call it an offseason, most likely staying below the CBT as well. Sounds eerily familiar to their 2013 offseason moves.
The downside to a kluber/hill type of tandem is the risk they would both wind up hurt at the same time… and that risk isn’t exactly low probability. You still would need some extra productive depth behind that type of move.
He wasn’t great, but he was dependable… the “he” being Perez. If you could juggle hill and kluber while having a dependable Perez type behind them, that could work.
Now with arihara and sugano, well, you’re hoping for the upside that looks possible. It’s almost like the lottery ticket prospect in a trade. You get a low end starter as the floor, and the kicker is you hope the ticket turns into something.
That SD is a finalist is surprising given the quotes about their payroll. You would think they need someone more defined in terms of MLB caliber experience with their professed limited spending capability.
Rangers rebuild gets a jump start if either of these overseas arms come through.
Boston can use any rotation help they can get… even if either guy fails to live up to their ceiling it’s a lightyear improvement over last season’s disastrous showing. Sale/erod/eovaldi carry plenty of question marks too. Just knowing you get 30 starts, 25 of which can be counted on as quality starts would have great value, even more so given that the bullpen is worse off after the 2020 trades depleted an already somewhat thin stable, and that bloom hasn’t meaningfully engaged with any of this offseason’s best free agents.
The downside to a kluber/hill type of tandem is the risk they would both wind up hurt at the same time… and that risk isn’t exactly low probability.
I’m not a fan of a reclamation project like Kluber.
But the Hill injury risk is a feature, not a bug. No one will want him since he likely won’t throw more than 20 starts. But assuming Sale is available after the ASG, 20 starts might be all we need out of him.
After looking a little deeper into Arihara’s numbers, he has improved significantly over his last 3 seasons so any team that signs him will be getting a much more consistent and effective pitcher than he was tracking to become in his early to mid 20’s. With that said, Sugano has been absolutely dominant for his entire career, save for one ‘bad’ season (by his standards) in 2018.
Signing either player seems to offer more potential for reward than risk, but you just never know when players change leagues like this. Sugano should be able to fill a #2 or #3 spot in an MLB rotation while Arihara seems to be more of a 3-4-5 starter. The one concern about Sugano is his age & mileage on his arm. He has thrown considerably more innings/games/years than Arihara so there has to be some concern about how much he has left in the tank. But if the term is only 2-3 years and the money is reasonable ($8-$10M per year), Sugano could end up being the best FA pitcher signing this offseason outside of Bauer. I really hope Boston signs Sugano this offseason, and I wouldn’t be at all upset if they signed both Arihara & Sugano.
The deadline is rapidly approaching and so far I haven’t heard any more news on the Arihara front… guess he technically has all day tomorrow to sign as well? Anyway I’m excited to see where he ends up… wouldn’t mind adding him to the Red Sox staff — though if they’re going to sign one of the two “big” Japanese FA pitchers I’d obviously prefer Sugano. I think Sugano could step in and be an ace-caliber SP next year. Arihara is probably more of a #3/#4 — though does have some solid upside given his relative youth. But I do also think he has some inherent risk… as occasionally Japanese SP’s with his kind of track record come over and fall flat on their face in the MLB (Kei Igawa, etc) — hopefully that’s not the case with him… and the upside is a potential 3.50-3.75 ERA SP… and if that’s what he ends up as… I’d be thrilled to see him in Boston.