The Seattle Mariners formally introduced their latest signing, starting pitcher Yusei Kikuchi today. The former Seibu Lion hurler will be guaranteed $56 million over the next 3-4 years (there’s an option in there).
One takeaway from his introduction today: the team plans to slightly limit his workload in his first year as a major leaguer, as a means of getting him used to the different patterns of pitcher usage in the United States compared to Japan.
Kikuchi will still make around 30 starts or so, but some of them will be shorter, with every fifth outing lasting just a couple of innings. This is hoped to lesson the change from pitching every 6-7 days, as is the case in Japan, to every five days in the United States.
Given the Mariners’ rebuild, this should be of no competitive consequence. And it may just help preserve a promising young pitcher’s arm.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Angels and reliever Cody Allen are in agreement on a one-year contract, pending a physical. The value of the contract is not yet known.
Allen, 30, was looking for an opportunity to close and the Angels can certainly provide that. He will likely be the favorite to break camp as the closer. 2018 was the roughest year of his career, however, as he finished with a 4.70 ERA, 27 saves, and a 80/33 K/BB ratio in 67 innings. Among Allen’s six full seasons, his 27.7 strikeout rate and 11.4 percent walk rate represented career-worsts. FanGraphs also shows him losing nearly a full MPH on his average fastball velocity.
The Angels lost closer Keynan Middleton to Tommy John surgery early last season and he likely won’t return until the second half of the 2019 season. Blake Parker, who handled save situations in Middleton’s place, was non-tendered by the Angels in November and ended up signing with the Twins. The closer’s role is Allen’s to lose, it seems.