The Mariners are close to reaching an agreement with Japanese left-hander Yusei Kikuchi, Yahoo Sports reported Monday.
But the clock is ticking. Seattle has until Jan. 2 to sign the pitcher.
The 27-year-old Kikuchi has rare tools, with a fastball that can reach 98 mph and consistently clocks in the 93 mph range, along with a good slider. He posted a 74-48 record with a 2.81 ERA in eight seasons in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball organization.
While the Mariners appear to the front-runner now, Kikuchi has been tied to several other West Coast clubs in recent weeks. Fancred’s Jon Heyman reported Monday other teams “are still involved” in discussions with Kikuchi.
Under new MLB rules, Kikuchi’s former club, the Seibu Lions, will receive a percentage of Kikuchi’s new contract, which would be sizable.