While offense is seemingly where the Cincinnati Reds will be focusing more of their resources, they aren’t going to just ignore pitching. Pitcher Shun Yamaguchi has requested that his team, the Yomiuri Giants, post him so he can move to the Major Leagues. The Giants are one of the Japanese teams that have never posted a player in their history, but according to Jon Morosi he will be posted according to Sports Nippon.
NEWS: Shun Yamaguchi, 32-year-old RHP, will be posted by the Yomiuri Giants, Sports Nippon reports. He went 15-4 with a 2.91 ERA over 170 innings this year. Yamaguchi started for Japan in Sunday's @WBSC @Premier12 final and gave up 3 ER in 1 IP. @MLB @MLBNetwork
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) November 18, 2019
From a numbers standpoint, Shun Yamaguchi was dominant in 2019 for Yomiuri. He went 16-4 with a 2.78 ERA in 181.0 innings. He walked 64 batters and struck out 194 batters. The right-handed pitcher led the league in wins and strikeouts, and finished third in the league in ERA.
The 14-year career for Shun Yamaguchi has been interesting. As an 18 and 19-year-old he didn’t pitch much, making five starts in 2006 and then four starts and two relief appearances in 2007 as a teenager. But starting in 2008 he began to see more action, though it was all out of the bullpen from 2008-2013. In that time he was rather dominant, picking up 111 saves while posting a 2.81 ERA in 317.1 innings pitched.
But in the 2014 season he transitioned mid-season from reliever to starter, and he’s been starting ever since. And he’s been one of the better pitchers in the league most of those seasons, too.
The Reds have never had a Japanese player on their team. They are the only franchise in Major League Baseball that hasn’t. Yamaguchi is not a free agent, and as such the team he would sign with would have to pay a fee to his Japanese team in order to sign him. That fee would be a percentage of the overall value of his contract that he signs. MLB Trade Rumors breaks down how much that would cost here if you want the nitty-gritty details.
At this point there hasn’t been much speculated on when it comes to a contract. He will turn 33 in mid-July, so it’s not likely that he’d be looking at a long-term deal given how teams have basically decided that anyone over 30 is basically a zombie with their extremities hanging on by a few threads. Still, a two to four year deal doesn’t sound extreme depending on just how much money is there for the totality of the deal.
He’s got an interesting pitch mix – throwing a fastball, slider, split-finger, and a curveball. His splitter is his best pitch – a potential plus offering. But his fastball doesn’t inspire tons of confidence that he’s a difference maker as a starter, either. The pitch only averages 90 MPH. For a team looking to add a back of the rotation starter with a little upside, which sounds just like the Reds, a deal here could make sense. Falling back to the bullpen where he’s had plenty of success in the past could also be an option.