clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Should the Yankees have interest in these Japanese stars?

Ryosuke Kikuchi and Shun Yamaguchi have been formally posted, leaving them free to sign with any MLB team.

Japan v Australia - WBSC Premier 12: Super Round Photo by Gene Wang/Getty Images

On Tuesday morning, Major League Baseball declared that Ryosuke Kikuchi and Shun Yamaguchi have been officially made available through the league’s standard posting procedure. The window to sign such will players will run from now up until January 2nd, therefore setting a time frame of one month in which the two can sign.

Both are a bit unknown to fans of the 30 major-league teams. Could either help the Yankees? Let’s take a look.

Ryosuke Kikuchi

Kikuchi is a 29-year-old second baseman who is known for an exceptional glove and his ability to make contact. He is not the largest of players, measuring in at 5-foot-7 and 152 pounds, but he hasn’t let that deter him.

Playing at the highest level of Japanese baseball since making his debut in 2012, Kikuchi has hit a career .271/.315/.391. Those are not the most impressive of numbers, but his glove makes up for his offense in a way. He has been awarded the Golden Glove Award all seven seasons he’s been the starting second baseman for the Hiroshima Carp. In fact, he was named the most outstanding defensive player of the Premier12 tournament, as well as the second baseman on the Premier12 All-World Team. Here are some reasons why he received those honors:

Because of where Kikuchi plays and the Yankees’ multitude of talent on the infield already, he most likely won’t get too much attention from New York. He has a similar play style to Tyler Wade, but Wade has more speed. So, Kikuchi wouldn’t make for a great target unless the Yankees move on from Wade, or if the team decided they wanted to spend next season’s 26th roster spot on a potential utility infielder.

Shun Yamaguchi

Yamaguchi, 32, has played professional baseball in Japan since he was 18-years-old. The 14-year veteran has transitioned from the bullpen to the starting rotation. As a reliever, he’s recorded 112 saves, not to mention 30+ save seasons in 2010-11. In 2019, he pitched to a 2.78 ERA with 188 strikeouts and a WHIP of 1.171 over 181 innings, compiling an almost John Smoltz-like track record overseas.

He has some notable accomplishments, such as throwing a no-hitter in 2018, and also was on the Japanese national team at the Preimer12 this past season.

However, he has gotten himself into off-field trouble. In 2017, Yamaguchi was suspended for the entire second-half of the season after being charged with causing bodily harm to a hospital security guard and damage to hospital property while intoxicated. According to police reports, he went to the emergency room after he cut his right hand while drinking at a bar.

While that incident is concerning, he has not had any off-field issues since. There’s no doubt that Yamaguchi can pitch, and the Yankees could be intrigued in the veteran right-hander. It is unknown if he would rather pitch in the bullpen or as a starter in America, but that shouldn’t be a huge problem for the Yankees, as they could use a reinforcement like him in either area.