Yusei Kikuchi to be Posted by Seibu Lions

The Seibu Lions have agreed to post Yusei Kikuchi, the ace of their staff. That means major league teams can now negotiate with Kikuchi on a contract. The Seibu Lions will get a small percentage of that contract. Since Kikuchi does not fall into the international salary bonus cap the contract should be substantial. He is also being represented by Scott Boras.

The Seibu Lions won the Pacific League conference this year, but lost in the playoffs to the Softbank Hawks. Kikuchi was the ace of the staff, though compared to last year his numbers were down. In 2017 the lefthander was 16-6 with a 1.97 ERA and 217 whiffs in 187.2 innings. In 2018 Kikuchi was 14-4, 3.08 with 153 whiffs in 163.2 innings. He is still only 27 so he should have a number of quality years left.

Kikuchi created some controversy after his high school season when he declared he was not going to register for the Japanese draft because his goal was to play in the major leagues. Players who bypass the Japanese draft to go directly to the major leagues are prevented from playing in the NPB for three years. Seven major league teams negotiated with him, but Kikuchi ended up signing with the Lions.

His fastball can hit the radars in the mid-90s with a quality slider. He also throws a curve and change. At 6′0″ he is not a big guy, but lefthanders survive without requiring length. He has a career 2.77 ERA. The last two years he has seemed more prone to giving up the long ball.

Boras will play him up even though last year may have been his worst season in the NPB since 2014 numbers wise. Daisuke Matsuzaka was the last big time pitcher posted by the Seibu Lions. Kaz Matsui was a position player that was signed by the Mets and Kazuhisa Ishii pitched in relief for four years in the major leagues.

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