SUNDAY: Given the deep free agent market for second basemen this offseason, it was plausible Kikuchi would again explore his MLB options next winter. That no longer seems to be the case. Kikuchi instead agreed to a four-year contract extension with the Carp on Friday, reports the Japan Times. The deal will reportedly pay him $2.7MM per year, with unspecified additional incentives available.
THURSDAY: Japanese infielder Ryosuke Kikuchi won’t be coming to the majors in 2020. Kikuchi’s Nippon Professional Baseball team – the Hiroshima Carp – posted him Dec. 3, which gave him a chance to sign with a big league club through Jan. 2. But Kikuchi announced this week that he’ll remain in his homeland, according to Sanspo (hat tip to Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker).
“The market moved slowly, so I took the decision that it would be better to inform the team early that I would stay,” Kikuchi said. “I was really torn.”
Kikuchi spent the previous eight years as a member of the Carp, with whom he developed a strong defensive reputation at second base. The soon-to-be 30-year-old’s offense hasn’t quite been up to par, though, as evidenced by his .271/.315/.391 line across 4,695 plate appearances in NPB.
Unfortunately for Kikuchi, his lack of offensive prowess no doubt worked against him as he tried to find a major league deal. Moreover, it surely didn’t help Kikuchi’s cause that he was an unproven commodity in a free-agent class of second basemen that’s loaded with familiar names. Starlin Castro, Brian Dozier, Ben Zobrist, Neil Walker, Jason Kipnis, Brock Holt, Scooter Gennett, Asdrubal Cabrera and Wilmer Flores are just some of the veteran second basemen who are still without contracts as the new year nears.