Chicago Cubs: Mulling the options for the lefty
When Kikuchi first discussed the possibility of bypassing the amateur draft in Japan in lieu of pursuing a big league career, many teams expressed interest in his services. One team who threw their hat into the pot: the Chicago Cubs.
During his time in high school, Major League scouts made the journey to watch Kikuchi pitch. As a high school starter, Kikuchi pumped his fastball in at 96 MPH. For a kid in high school, it is nothing short of impressive.
Today, Kikuchi is one step closer to achieving his dream of playing in Major League Baseball. He is available to negotiate with all 30 MLB clubs and will have 30 days to negotiate a contract before having to return to the Lions. The window officially opens December 5, according to Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors.
Kikuchi also hired mega-agent Scott Boras to oversee the negotiation process. Boras, if you recall, negotiated a $52 million contract for former Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka. For a team to sign Kikuchi, they must also go through the process of the posting fee. The first part is 20 percent of the first $25 million of the deal, with an additional 17.5 percent of the next $25 million, and finally another 15 percent if the contract exceeds $50 million.
As is the case when any big name international star wishes to transition, many teams are vying for his services. Early reports indicate the Philadelphia Phillies, Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees have extended their cards. The Boston Red Sox could be an additional option in play.
If you’re hoping to see the Cubs make a run, don’t hold your breath. That’s not to say it’s impossible, but unlikely is probably an accurate depiction of the odds. Many believe Kikuchi could have the stuff of a number two starter at the big league level. Given he’s a lefty, the intrigue only heightens for a lot of clubs looking for impactful arms.
Granted, the Cubs could always use another left-handed starting pitcher. Cole Hamels and Jon Lester are both 34 years old and Jose Quintana has been inconsistent since his arrival in Chicago. But if you go out and get Kikuchi, what do you do with the other (arguably) seven starters on the staff?
While the possibility is probably slim, being that Kikuchi will still be 28 years old when Opening Day rolls around, the Cubs could make a dark horse bid on his services in hopes of luring Kikuchi to the Windy City. The race is on for Yusei Kikuchi.