18-year-old Japanese left-hander
Yusei Kikuchi, who was courted by eight MLB teams in recent weeks, announced his intentions to remain in Japan during a press conference on Sunday.
“I want to be given the chance to play in Japan. For now
I’m closing the door to the Majors, and after becoming a top pitcher in
Japan I want to take on the world.”
Kikuchi is expected to be the No. 1 selection in the Nippon
Professional Baseball draft on Oct. 29. Once a player joins a Japanese
team, he must play nine seasons before becoming a free agent. He could
always leave earlier, however much like Daisuke Matsuzaka, MLB teams
would have to bid for his services through a posting system.
Though it’s not known if MLB teams
even spoke terms with the young lefty, some believe he could have made
as much as 2009 first-round pick Tyler Matzek of the Rockies. Widely
regarded as the top high school lefty in the draft, Matzek signed for
Update (6:48 PM EST): Topkin reports the contract will be of the major league variety.
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Rays and free agent reliever Shawn Tolleson are close to finalizing a contract.
Tolleson, who turns 29 years old on Thursday, had an ugly 2016 season, finishing with a 7.68 ERA and a 29/10 K/BB ratio in 36 1/3 innings. He was one of the Rangers’ best relievers in the two seasons prior to that, however, which included saving 35 games in 2015.
The big presidential pardon news today concerns the commutation of Chelsea Manning’s sentence. We’ll leave that aside. For our purposes, know that someone in the world of baseball was pardoned: Willie McCovey.
Yes, Hall of Famer Willie McCovey, who in 1995 pleaded guilty to income tax fraud related to the non-reporting of income received from memorabilia and autograph shows. Duke Snider pleaded guilty alongside McCovey. They were given two years probation and fines of $5,000. Snider died in 2011. McCovey still works with the San Francisco Giants as a senior advisor and goodwill ambassador.
President Obama’s release of McCovey’s pardon was pretty succinct. But it’s enough to scrub the record of one of the greatest sluggers of all time.