One of the top relievers in Japan, right-hander Kyuji Fujikawa, is a free agent eligible to sign with MLB teams without going through the traditional posting process and Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News reports that the Rangers are among multiple teams interested.
Fujikawa’s numbers in Japan are amazing. In eight years he’s never had an ERA higher than 2.01 and this season, at age 32, he posted a 1.32 ERA. He has 220 career saves and 914 strikeouts in 703 innings.
Plenty of Japanese relievers have had success coming to America, including Kazuhiro Sasaki, Takashi Saito, Shigetoshi Hasegawa, Hideki Okajima, Akinori Otsuka, and Koji Uehara. Fujikawa might be the best of the bunch in terms of his performance in Japan.
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.
It’s not known yet what kind of contract the two sides are negotiating. It could be a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training, a non-guaranteed major league contract, or a guaranteed major league contract.
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.