Yusei Kikuchi 4 yrs Guaranteed
Details still emerging.

So it sounds like the Mariners and free agent pitcher Yusei Kikuchi have agreed to a 4 year deal. Sounds like an AMAZING contract, too: 3 years guaranteed with mutual options represented as a fourth year player option or, if the team exercises their end instead, a fourth-seventh year team option. So it's either a 3 year deal where both sides decline, a 4 year deal where the team declines but the player exercises, or a seven year deal where the team exercises. Beautiful, BEAUTIFUL contract structure which I HOPE serves as a model for upcoming mid- and top-shelf contracts rather than the player opt-out nonsense we've seen in recent years. This is a MUCH more mutually-agreeable framework.

This is a coup, almost irrespective of the yearly salaries. Assuming he's being paid as a MOR arm rather than a TOR one, the Mariners have acquired a 27 year old pitcher with rock-solid peripherals on a 4-7 year contract. He's probably never going to be an ace, and even a solid #2 like Iwakuma managed for a stretch might be a little ambitious. But a #3/4 with upside is exactly what the Mariners need as they go into a rebuild phase. Either Kikuchi pitches well and remains with the Ms as they reenter the field of contention, or he pitches poorly and is an afterthought, or he pitches well and he gets traded for prospects when the Ms decide they can't become competitive during his contract.

My understanding of the new posting system is that free agents who come over under its framework are indeed free agents, and subject to the same qualifying offer system as local free agents. Also, there is no guaranteed 6-7 years of club control like with amateur free agents brought over from, say, Cuba or the rest of South America. So whatever the contract's framework provides will represent the extent of the Ms club control over Kikuchi. But a MOR pitcher's 28-31 seasons are prime years (if Kuma had come over a few years earlier, he'd have had a heck of a run...) so this really does look like a fantastic deal for the Ms even if they 'overpay' on the AAV.

All told, a fine day for Ms fans. If you squint hard (and I do mean HARD) you can nervously assert that this team's current rotation heading into 2019 is better than the one that took the field in 2018. Depth is remarkably better, and there's upside all over the place. The offense is several steps worse than it was in 2018, and the pen is basically nonexistent, but the rotation...hard to argue that the flurry of moves this offseason has dramatically hurt the team's SP corps.

Edited to add:

So the contract terms are as follows:

First 3 years, $43mil ($14.3mil/year)

4th year player option: $13mil

4th-7th year team option: $66mil ($16.5mil/year)

It's rare for an MLB player to be both humble and confident enough to declare 'this is what I want, and my wants aren't likely to change.' Obviously maintaining stability and structure in his life is important to Kikuchi, at least as important as the opportunity to earn $100mil as an MLB pitcher (the deal is potentially with $109mil if the team exercises its options). But I doubt Kikuchi's stance is significantly different from the vast majority of other MLB players in that regard. Agents surely want to maximize contract values so they can cut a bigger piece of the pie for themselves, but we've seen plenty of players take the long-term deal at an early stage in their careers.

Anyway, this is still quite clearly a kill-shot for the Ms. They have a chance to pick up a solid MOR arm for an eminently decent contract, heading into the prime years of his career, where the 'appraisal' period which will determine whether or not the team exercises its option does not come during a competitive window. It's an absolutely brilliant move, and frankly I'm not all that confident in asserting how Dipoto was able to pull this off. However it happened, well done.

Comments

1

Does anyone here recall reading about Kikuchi having a tired arm, or arm tightness or such recently???

I swear I read something from an East coast writer / publication that mentioned it, and that was a reason the Yankees or Red Sox were really not pursueing Kikiuchi very hard... but now I can not find it... and no one is mentioning anything about it. 

2

when I read of this late last night, I had the same thoughts: A creative and beautifully structured contract.  Years 4-7, if the Mariners exercise the option, must include an escalating salary, don’t you think?

Well done JeDi.

Happy New Year all!

3

I was so hoping for this. Useful piece for now, useful piece for later. And - as the whole world has noted already - a very intriguing contract structure. I'm glad the M's managed to land him.

4

...and with all of the 'middle-aged' free agents looking for work, this may be the foundation of something both the union and the owners can work with.  If so, full credit to JD.

5

Among top SP's, only Leake is RH... and he may be next out the door. 

Among top hitters, only Haniger and Healy (and Santana) hit RH- and I wouldn't bet much on either "H" going to Peoria in six weeks.

Even the top pitching prospect (Sheffield) and several top position prospects are portside.

Key needs:

1. 1-2 RH starters (???)

2. RH SS (I like Jose Iglesias)

3. RH C (I like AJ Ellis)

4. [Probably] RH replacements for Hani and Healy

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