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Mariners sign pitcher Yusei Kikuchi

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Jon Heyman reports that the Seattle Mariners have signed pitcher Yusei Kikuchi. He had been posted by his NPB team, the Seibu Lions. The deadline for him to have signed with a U.S. team was tomorrow.

Heyman says it’s a three-year contract with a player option for 2022, with the option possibly being replaced with an additional four-year guarantee. At the moment he will reportedly make $43 million over those three years.

Kikuchi has a 73-46 career record with a 2.77 ERA in NPB, going 14-4 with a 3.08 ERA this year while striking out 153 batters in 163 and two-thirds innings. The year before that he went 16-6 with a 1.97 ERA while striking out 217 batters and walking only 49 in his 187 and two-thirds.

Kikuchi is a fastball-slider pitcher some have compared to Patrick Corbin. He’s generally viewed by major league scouts as a potential mid-rotation starter.

Oakland Athletics reverse course, will continue to pay minor leaguers

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Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Oakland Athletics owner John Fisher has reversed course and will continue to pay minor leaguers. Fisher tells Slusser, “I concluded I made a mistake.” He said he is also setting up an assistance fund for furloughed employees.

The A’s decided in late May to stop paying paying minor leaguers as of June 1, which was the earliest date on which any club could do so after an MLB-wide agreement to pay minor leaguers through May 31 expired. In the event, the A’s were the only team to stop paying the $400/week stipends to players before the end of June. Some teams, notable the Royals and Twins, promised to keep the payments up through August 31, which is when the minor league season would’ve ended. The Washington Nationals decided to lop off $100 of the stipends last week but, after a day’s worth of blowback from the media and fans, reversed course themselves.