Japanese reliever Kyuji Fujikawa has visited with the Cubs and Diamondbacks

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We heard earlier this month that free agent Japanese reliever Kyuji Fujikawa was drawing interest from MLB teams. Now he’s beginning the process of finding the right fit stateside.

Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News reports that Fujikawa has toured the facilities of the Cubs and Diamondbacks over the past week and is expected to visit with the Angels and Dodgers in the near future. The Rangers have scouted Fujikawa, but it’s not known if he’ll meet with them.

Fujikawa has been one of the most dominant closers in Japan for a long time, posting a 1.77 ERA, 11.8 K/9 and 220 saves over 12 seasons with the Hanshin Tigers. Featuring a low-90s fastball, a slider and a forkball in his arsenal, the 32-year-old right-hander had a 1.32 ERA and 58/15 K/BB ratio over 47 2/3 innings this season. Since he’s a free agent, he will not be subject to the posting process.

The Cards dealt Stephen Piscotty to the A’s, in part, so he could be near his ailing mother

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Last night we wrote about the rumored deal between the Cardinals and the Athletics for Stephen Piscotty. The deal is now official, with Piscotty going to Oakland for minor leaguers Yairo Munoz and Max Schrock.

Something else emerged about the deal today: a big reason why St. Louis traded Piscotty to Oakland as opposed to another team was so that he could be near his mother, who was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease last May. Piscotty and his family are from Pleasanton, California, about 35 miles from Oakland.

Here’s Cardinals GM John Mozeliak:

This was certainly a baseball trade — Piscotty became expendable for the Cardinals after they acquired Marcell Ozuna yesterday — but it was one which could’ve been made with any team with a couple of red or white chip prospects. That Mozeliak considered Piscotty’s personal situation in making the deal with the A’s is a credit to him and his staff.

The 26-year-old Piscotty hit .235 with nine homers and 39 RBIs in 107 games last season. He has hit .268 with 38 homers and 163 RBIs in 2+ major league seasons. He agreed to a six-year, $33.5 million contract extension last spring.

As for the prospects in return: Munoz, 22, hit .300 with 13 homers and 68 RBIs this year for Double-A Midland and Triple-A Nashville. Schrock, 23, batted .321 with seven homers and 46 RBIs for Midland, and was a Texas League All-Star.