Yusei Kikuchi
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Japanese southpaw Yusei Kikuchi to be posted in December

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Seibu Lions left-hander Yusei Kikuchi will be posted on December 3, according to an official announcement on Friday. Negotiations for the southpaw’s services can start as soon as December 5, and he’ll have 30 days to work out a new deal with an MLB team before the window closes on January 4, 2019. Per the Japan Times, Kikuchi will return to Nippon Professional Baseball if no agreement can be made during that time frame.

Kikuchi, 27, pitched to a 14-4 record in 23 starts with a 3.08 ERA, 2.5 BB/9 and 8.4 SO/9 through 163 2/3 innings with the Lions in 2018. While those numbers reflected a downward trend from his career-best totals in 2017 (including a stunning 1.97 ERA and team-leading 217 strikeouts), he profiles as a strong mid-rotation option in the majors and his relative youth and consistency will only boost his appeal to interested MLB clubs this winter. He’s said to be represented by agent Scott Boras, who previously worked with former Lions right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka in 2006.

As the posting date is still over a week away, no frontrunner has emerged for the flame-throwing lefty just yet. The Phillies, Red Sox and Dodgers are all rumored to be interested, though the pool of candidates is likely to grow given that the Lions’ ace is talented enough to contribute to a contending team and young enough to wait out the growing pains of a rebuild. Under the revised posting system that was put into motion last winter, any serious suitor will have to pony up 20 percent of the first $25 million of the contract, with another 17.5 percent of the next $25 million and 15 percent of any remaining money on the table (bonuses, options and incentives included). Kikuchi himself said that he has no strong preference for any one major-league team, instead telling reporters, “Wherever it is that I do go, my desire is to prepare so that I can contribute.”

Report: Yankees could be in on Nolan Arenado

Nolan Arenado
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The Yankees appear to have moved on from free agent Manny Machado this winter, but could they be turning their attention to Rockies superstar Nolan Arenado? That’s the idea floated by Andy Martino of SNY, who hears that GM Brian Cashman has been involved in recent discussions concerning the third baseman. No official comments have been made to the press yet, though, and it’s not clear whether the Yankees would prefer to pursue Arenado prior to the 2019 season or partway through it.

The 27-year-old infielder earned his fourth consecutive All-Star nomination, Silver Slugger, and Gold Glove award in 2018 after slashing .297/.374/.561 with 38 home runs, a .935 OPS, and 5.7 fWAR across 673 plate appearances. There’s no question he’s provided immense value to Colorado’s lineup over the last half-decade, and his consistency and incredible power at the plate helped form the basis of the record $30 million arbitration figure he presented to the team last week. The Rockies countered at $24 million, however, and in doing so may have jeopardized their chances of convincing the infielder to forego free agency in 2020 and take a long-term deal instead.

Assuming he declines to negotiate an extension with the Rockies, Arenado’s decorated résumé and career-best 2018 numbers should attract plenty of interest around the league — a reality that could put considerable pressure on the Yankees (or any other interested party) to finesse a deal sooner rather than later. For now, the club is prepared to enter the 2019 season with hot-hitting third baseman Miguel Andújar, whom Martino speculates would be the “centerpiece” of any trade with Colorado.