Fujikawa will come over to MLB this winter


Via NPB Tracker: Right-handed reliever Kyuji Fujikawa will look to join an MLB this club as a true free agent this offseason. The long-time Hanshin Tigers closer will be represented by Arn Tellem, who also represented Hideki Matsui, Mike Mussina, and Jason Giambi.

Fujikawa, 32, has been the most dominant reliever in Japan for the last decade or so. He’s pitched to sub-1.50 ERA in six of the last eight years with a strikeout rate well north of 12.0 per nine. Last offseason I linked to a scouting report that says he runs his fastball up to 94 with a put-away splitter. Here’s more from Amazin’ Avenue and here’s some video. The Yankees figure to be in the market for a reliever this offseason, especially if Rafael Soriano opts out, so here’s another name just to keep in the back of your mind. The history with Tellem can only be considered a positive.

Categories : Asides, Hot Stove League


  1. jjyank says:

    Any idea on the kind of contract he could command, Mike?

  2. The Moral Majority is Neither says:

    Definitely take a look at this guy.

    Rivera, Robertson,Fujikawa, Aardsma, Logan, Rapada, Montgomery…

    Sabathia, Pettitte and/or Kuroda, Hughes, Nova, Chamberlain, Phelps

    Pitching staff set!

  3. Sam says:

    While Kyuji sounds Major-League ready for the bullpen. How come the yankees aren’t showing interest in this Otani kid. Tossing 99-100 out of high school isn’t something to ignore. Also I’m still bitter about missing out on Yu

    • HyShai says:

      I’d be overly cautious on a kid coming over to totally different culture at such a young age. There’s is a very weak support system in MiLB for Asian players.

      • JaNY says:

        It is better to come here at young age rather than old.

        I would take a look at this kid but he will be early

        first round pick which we do not have.

      • Joe says:

        So do the the Latin kids at an even younger age. The Japanese also don’t grow up in poverty so it’s a completely different culture. I would go all in on this kid. Spend what ever you have to and miss next years signings. When is the last time we had a chance to get an 18 year old who throws 100 without a draft with just money. imagine him, campos and Hensley in charleston next year.

        • Raul Ibanez AKA Tom Marvolo Riddle AKA True Yankee(TM) says:

          The difference is a large percentage of Minor Leaguers are from Spanish speaking countries, or speak Spanish well enough to be friendly…the same can’t be said for Japanese players. On top of being 18 in an entirely different culture he’d be isolated by a language barrier in his own clubhouse.

          • jjyank says:

            Plus a lot of those Latin American kids have trained and/or spend time in training facilities that MLB teams have down there, so they’re more familiar with the style. Maybe they do in Japan too (I have no idea), but even so, I would imagine the Latin American kids have more contact with MLB facilities, scouts, and coaches than the Japanese kids do before they sign.

          • Joe says:

            Shoo was drafted by the mariners andn he was fine in America. So I don’t think that will be a problem. And I’m sure the team will do anything it can to make him comfortable. You know a team will blow its whole budget to sign such a unique talent (ahem Texas) so why don’t we grow some balls and actually spend money on young talent instead of paying loogy relievers 5m a year.

            • Raul Ibanez AKA Tom Marvolo Riddle AKA True Yankee(TM) says:

              I’m not saying they shouldn’t sign him, I’m just saying the parallel between a young Hispanic player coming to the MiLB vs a young Japanese player is an unfair one to draw for the Japanese player.

        • toad says:

          In case you haven’t noticed, we have an awful lot of Latin Americans in the US, and especially in baseball. A kid from the D.R. or somewhere will have teammates who speak Spanish and have similar backgrounds. Chances are at least one of his coaches will be Hispanic. Depending on where he plays, he might easily find a congenial neighborhood to live in that is not much of a culture shock at all.

          A Japanese kid faces a different situation.

    • Need Pitching & Hitting says:

      They didn’t seem willing to exceed the IFA cap before. I’m not sure they would now.

  4. Raul Ibanez AKA Tom Marvolo Riddle AKA True Yankee(TM) says:

    pass. I can count on one hand the number of successful MLB players to come from Japan in my life time.

    • Matsui, Ichiro, Nomo, Darvish?, Kuroda, Igawa…haha.

      • Raul Ibanez AKA Tom Marvolo Riddle AKA True Yankee(TM) says:

        Uehara, as well as the LOOGY Boston had. He was a decent bullpen piece for a couple years before falling to absolute shit (and yeah, that’s about every LOOGY in the history of LOOGY’s)

    • Bob Buttons says:

      Saito, Sasaki, Hasegawa, Akinori Otsuka.

      Japan seems to produce some usable middle relievers.

      • RetroRob says:

        I’m more comfortable with pitchers, and especially relievers, making the transition. My guess is this guy will probably be pretty good. Of course, many MLB teams will think similar, and some will be able to offer him a shot at a closer’s role, something the Yankees can’t, at least not in 2013 unless Mo gets injured again.

  5. Get Phelps Up says:

    I’d rather allot resources to someone more proven than him.

  6. what about the 18 year old Jap kid? he’s making his decision tomorrow, right?

    • The Big City of Dreams says:

      According to some reports he has already made his decision to come to the States.

      • I’d take a shot on him…no posting fee, so that’s a big plus. He’s subject to the new International FA rules, right?

        • The Big City of Dreams says:

          I think he is.

          I;d take a shot at him as well. There is nothing to lose and if it works out you have another young pitcher who could play a role down the line.

          • Need Pitching & Hitting says:

            There is something to lose with the new IFA rules. Signing Otana could restrict who the Yankees would be able to sign in next year’s IFA class (unless Otana signs very cheaply).

            • The Big City of Dreams says:

              True but he maybe worth it in this situation. He maybe worth going over it especially if the next IFA class isn’t substantial.

    • Blake says:

      I believe he’s coming to the states…. Throws 100 as an 18 year old….6’4 and very Darvish like delivery….probably have to go over the max to sign him…..but they should consider signing him

      • RetroRob says:

        It’s not uncommon for high-school kids to hit 97-100mph, but then throw lower velocity once they turn pro. They’re pitching much more reguarly, high innings and against the best competition they’ve ever faced, and it increases on every level. Much more physicially stressful ABs and season, requiring them to pace themselves. Just can’t sit back and throw the fastball as hard as possible.

        Now on the other hand, this kid is 6’4″ and looks to be built like a stringbean. He seems to have body that can project out much bigger. He might even still be growing. So what he loses by the workload, he might retain as his body fills out.

        I’d sure love to see them take a shot, yet I don’t know if they have the money in their international budget. Didn’t they use it up already? It’s capped by the new CBA.

  7. your mom says:

    Does he project better than Koji Uehara did? Uehara’s not bad.

  8. mko says:

    Looks good…I like him!

  9. dan gen says:

    dont be excited about anything…budget before wins….that is the hal way.

  10. JLC 776 says:

    Kei Igawa style overreaction time?

  11. The Moral Majority is Neither says:

    Ichiro, H. Matsui, K. Matsui, Nomo, Darvish, Kuroda, Okajima, Johjima…

    • Raul Ibanez AKA Tom Marvolo Riddle AKA True Yankee(TM) says:

      Ha, believe it or not I forgot about Kuroda…the name Johjima doesn’t ring a bell though. I just B-Ref’d him, 4 years in the MLB, 2 of which w/ a sub-.300 OBP isn’t something I’d say is successful.

  12. Karl Krawfid says:

    Ugly dude

  13. CANOlli says:

    Just from the quick description on MLBTR, Otani sounds like Betances 2.0. I’d like to see them pursue him aggressively; unless he gets hurt, there’s a good shot that, at worst, he’s a future trade-chip-prospect.

  14. Big Member says:

    The question becomes how much. FA market is full of low cost/high upside relievers and wasting IFA on him seems silly.

    • Need Pitching & Hitting says:

      For Fujikawa?

      He wouldn’t count against the IFA cap.

    • Raul Ibanez AKA Tom Marvolo Riddle AKA True Yankee(TM) says:

      …Big member with a coherent and sensible post. I…I don’t even know. I feel like suart using all these ellipses…but still…to quote the fangirls of the internet, I’m 5000% done.

      Seriously though. I agree with Big Member.

      • Big Member says:

        althogh if ichiro and kuroda can talk to him and he says ok dear tomadachis i will play for yankees for the glory and be with friends I defenetly can get behind the idea of K-Fuk setting up Mo.

  15. Blake says:


    I think this is te same game but longer video….check out that stride length….

  16. tyrone sharpton says:

    i like my fish imported…same with relievers. japanese relievers seem to do better than starters here

  17. The Moral Majority is Neither says:

    If the Yankees had Darvish and Cespedes at 110% of their current deals, would they have been better or worse in terms of a) 2012 b) 2014 $189M budget?

    This could have been so easy, and now it will be very, very difficult.

    • Blake says:

      Better …..but it is what it is now

    • Need Pitching & Hitting says:

      Hard to say. Depends on what corresponding moves would have been made.

      Darvish: for 2012, probably would have meant no Kuroda, so even at best, but a lot more costly with the posting fee.
      For 2014, it would depend on if they can find another cheaper top of the rotation starter (looking unlikely in that time frame with the injuries to Pineda and Banuelos), but they most likely would have been better off with Darvish.
      It’s hard to know how the Yankees would have handled the posting fee though. Maybe it would have meant no Pettitte, Chavez, Ibanez in addition to no Kuroda, so this year’s team might have been severely impacted.

      Cespedes: They certainly could have used him this year with the injury to Gardner. Very possible that he’d be a better bang for the buck than what they may end up with in 2014 if they do stick to the austerity plan as well.

    • Robinson Tilapia (I love the New York Yankees) says:

      No. What you’re doing now is actually rather easy. Deciding to sign them was difficult.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      “This could have been so easy, and now it will be very, very difficult.”

      Right… If you use hindsight to evaluate players after the fact, assume they will sustain one year’s results going forward (most Japanese SPs have peaked early), and assume they will be unable to acquire/develop talent at good values going forward…

  18. Feijoddity says:

    A tidbit: Kyuji literally means “baseball kid”

  19. ThatstheMelkyMesaWaysa says:

    I would be okay with signing anyone.

  20. Robinson Tilapia (I love the New York Yankees) says:

    Have the 18 year-old kid walk up and down St. Marks Place in the East Village all day. More Tokyo ramen imports than any neighborhood you could imagine. Not buying the culture argument. You find your culture in NYC, no matter who you are.

    If the price is right on any of these guys, sure. Are there any YouTube vids of them jumping over boxes?

    (that guy turned out pretty well, I know)

  21. JaNY says:

    Of course not all Japanese players have been good in latly

    we got a admit there were pretty exceptional one.


    Ichiro, Darvish, Uehara, Tazawa, Aoki, Nomo and list goes.

    It is a good talent pool there. Since our farm is pretty much

    bombed, I would not mind NY would look for some young player

    outside of state

  22. vicki says:

    new cba about international amateur signings SUCKS.

    thanks a lot, kim ng. you used to be one of us.

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