1 year ago, the Angels made a surprise dash by beating a deep field of suitors to property two dimensional phenom .

1 year ago, the Angels made a surprise dash by beating a deep field of suitors to property two dimensional phenom .

A similar courtship will begin in earnest for yet another Japanese star, as left-hander was officially posted with the Seibu Lions of Nippon Professional on Tuesday.

The Angels are certainly on the market for projecting, and while the 27-year-old Kikuchi isn’t anticipated to create the same frenzy as Ohtani, most scouts believe his ceiling is that of a No. 2 starter in the Majors. Since debuting at at age 20, Kikuchi has gone 73-46 using a 2.77 ERA at 158 looks (153 starts) over eight seasons with the Lions.

Kikuchi’s best year came in 2017, when he went 16-6 with a 1.97 ERA on a career-high 187 2/3 innings. He wasn’t quite as dominant this past year, but he was still one of the best pitchers in Japan, as Kikuchi went 14-4 with a 3.08 ERA over 163 2/3 innings to help lead the Lions to the best record in the Pacific League.

His finest secondary pitch is a sliderthough he throws a curveball and changeup.

Adding an established arm could provide a boost to the Angels’ rotation. As it stands, , and are probably the only solid bets to begin, together with Felix Pena, and Dillon Peters one of the candidates to fill out the staff. The club also has prospects Jose Suarez and Griffin Canning waiting at the wings, together with JC Ramirez probably returning from Tommy John surgery around midseason.

While Kikuchi could help fill a few of those holes solidify the Angels’ pitching depth, one possible red flag is his injury history. Kikuchi spent time on the disabled list with a left shoulder injury at 2018 and he’s dealt with shoulder difficulties during his career. Considering that the number of harms their rotation has sustained in the past several years, the Angels are prioritizing durable arms that this offseason, which might produce the club less amenable to taking on the risk that would accompany a Kikuchi signing.

Teams will have a 30-day window to negotiate with Kikuchi, who’s represented by agent . Under the new posting rules, the release fee paid to clubs by MLB teams is contingent on the guaranteed price of the player’s MLB contract, beginning with 20 percent of the initial $25 million and continuing by 17.5 percent of the next $25 million, and 15 percent of any amount past $50 million.

If Kikuchi doesn’t sign an MLB bargain by Jan. 2, he’ll remain with the Lions.


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