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.
Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Angels have inked outfielder Eric Young, Jr. to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.
Young, 31, played in just six games and logged one plate appearance in the majors this past season with the Yankees. He last played regularly in 2014. While Young doesn’t do much with the bat, he could provide value as a pinch-runner. He also offers versatility, having played all three outfield positions along with second base.
The Angels have Ben Revere as their fourth outfielder and Jefry Marte behind him, so Young would need to have a very impressive showing in spring training to find a spot on the Angels’ roster.
Update (5:20 PM EST): It’s a minor league contract, per Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. If he makes the major league roster, Saltalamacchia will earn $1.25 million with an additional $250,000 available through incentives.
The Blue Jays are close to a deal with free agent catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet is reporting.
Saltalamacchia, 31, hit a meager .171/.284/.346 with 12 home runs and 38 RBI in 292 plate appearances with the Tigers this past season. With Russell Martin getting regular playing time behind the plate, Saltalamacchia will serve as his understudy, pushing A.J. Jimenez and Juan Graterol down on the depth chart.
The veteran catcher isn’t far removed from being a productive backstop. He had an .805 OPS in 70 games with the Diamondbacks in 2015 and also helped the Red Sox win the World Series in 2013 with an .804 OPS in 121 games.