The Nippon-Ham Fighters of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball have posted right-hander Naoyuki Uwasawa for Major League teams, tweets Mark Feinsand of MLB.com. The Fighters announced in October that they would honor the 29-year-old righty’s wishes to be posted. Like Yokohama BayStars left-hander Shota Imanaga, who was also formally posted today, Uwasawa’s 45-day posting window will now kick off tomorrow morning.
Uwasawa, who’ll turn 30 in January, logged 170 innings of 2.96 ERA ball this past season, albeit with a sub-par 17.8% strikeout rate that could temper some enthusiasm. His career mark of 19.7% is a bit better but still not the type of rate that generally catches they eyes of MLB front offices in a market that heavily rewards power arms with swing-and-miss stuff. Uwasawa does sport a sharp 7.5% walk rate in his career, including a particularly impressive 5.9% mark this past season.
Back in September, MLBTR contributor Dai Takegami Podziewski noted that Uwasawa’s fastball velocity on the year was averaging 90.8 mph. Paired with his pedestrian strikeout rate, that lack of velocity will give Major League teams some trepidation about how he’ll stack up against MLB opposition. The average MLB fastball among starting pitchers in 2023 was 93.8 mph — 94.2 mph if focusing in solely on right-handed starters.
Of course, that doesn’t entirely rule out success. Kyle Hendricks sat at an average of 87.8 mph with his “heater” this past season, while fellow righties like Bryce Elder (90.7 mph), Dane Dunning (90.6 mph) and Kenta Maeda (91 mph) were all in the same general vicinity as Uwasawa over the course of generally successful seasons. The majority of right-handed starters who sat in this range struggled, but as with all rules, there are exceptions. Uwasawa could well prove to be such an exception, and his broader track record in Japan could still pique some team’s interest — particularly if (as is expected) his price tag is considerably lower than the other, higher-profile NPB arms who are being posted.
In parts of nine NPB seasons, Uwasawa has amassed 1118 1/3 innings of 3.19 ERA ball with a 19.7% strikeout rate and 7.5% walk rate. He’s been particularly effective in recent years, compiling a 3.08 ERA over his past six NPB seasons. He made the NPB All-Star team in both 2021 and 2023. Uwasawa also tossed two shutouts and averaged better than seven innings per season this year.
If Uwasawa indeed finds a big league contract this offseason, any team signing him will owe a posting/release fee to the Fighters — his former club. The MLB/NPB posting system stipulates that in addition to the money paid to the player himself, his new team must pay a release fee to the former club that is equal to 20% of the contract’s first $25MM, plus 17.5% of the next $25MM, plus 15% of any money thereafter.