Red Sox, Plenty Of Others In On Kyuji Fujikawa

Jared Wickerham

The Red Sox are intrigued by a Japanese reliever who is now a free agent

Not every Japanese player comes to America via the posting process. Sometimes, they need to wait until they are free agents before they can make it over to Major League Baseball from Nippon Professional Baseball. Reliever Kyuji Fujikawa is one such Japanese player, as he's tried to be posted multiple times in the past, but the Hanshin Tigers wouldn't allow it. Now, though, he's a free agent, and very likely to receive a major-league contract.

The 32-year-old is in Boston's sights, according to the Boston Globe's Peter Abraham. They are far from alone, though, with the Angels, Rangers, Dodgers, and Diamondbacks all also in on Fujikawa. It's not a surprise, as he's been a dominating closer in Japan for years now, who averages around 92 miles per hour with his fastball, and throws six different pitches overall, though he mostly focuses on his heater, a splitter, and a slider. (NPB Tracker has more detailed information on his pitches and their velocity.)

Courtesy of Baseball Reference, we can see what his numbers have looked like:

Year Age Tm Lg ERA G IP BF WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
2007 26 Hanshin JPCL 1.63 71 83.0 313 0.819 5.4 0.2 2.0 12.5 6.39
2008 27 Hanshin JPCL 0.67 63 67.2 249 0.695 4.5 0.3 1.7 12.0 6.92
2009 28 Hanshin JPCL 1.25 49 57.2 217 0.815 5.0 0.6 2.3 13.4 5.73
2010 29 Hanshin JPCL 2.01 58 62.2 257 1.069 6.8 1.0 2.9 11.6 4.05
2011 30 Hanshin JPCL 1.24 56 51.0 193 0.745 4.4 0.4 2.3 14.1 6.15
2012 31 Hanshin JPCL 1.32 48 47.2 189 1.028 6.4 0.2 2.8 11.0 3.87
6 Seasons 1.36 345 369.2 1418 0.855 5.4 0.4 2.3 12.4 5.43
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 11/9/2012.

Fujikawa has been successful for a long time with the Tigers, and has posted some gaudy strikeout rates over that time. It's unlikely he would be inserted directly into the closer's role were he to sign with a team in MLB, but if his stuff works anywhere near as well in the majors as it did in NPB, then he'll likely grab hold of the gig sooner than later.

Many teams have already had an opportunity to scout Fujikawa, as he pitched in the World Baseball Classic on two separate occasions. There's no real word on what teams plan to offer him, but as it's the open market, there's no posting fee involved, and he's a reliever, monetary insanity should be missing from the proceedings. Boston has a lot of competition for the hurler, but given their financials, and all of the bullpen depth they have, they can certainly take the risk on what could be a serious relief arm.

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