Seattle Mariners have signed left-handed pitcher Yusei Kikuchi to a four-year contract. Kikuchi was posted by the Seibu Lions of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) League following the 2018 season. He was eligible to negotiate and sign with any MLB team.
“Yusei’s combination of character, talent, experience and relative age made him a primary target in our roster building plans,” Dipoto said. “He is an exciting young pitcher with the ability to impact the Mariners, both in the present and future.”
Kikuchi, 27, posted a 69-45 mark with a 2.69 ERA (286 ER, 956.1 IP) over 7 seasons with the Saitama Seibu Lions in Japan’s Pacific League. The 6-foot, 194-pound lefty struck out 879 while walking only 363 over his career with the Lions.
Over the last three seasons (2016-18), he was 42-17, 2.51 (138 ER, 494.1 IP) in 71 starts while striking out 497 (9.04 SO per 9.0 IP) and walking 161.
Kikuchi is a three-time (2013, 2017 & 2018) NPB All-Star and he led the Pacific League in ERA (1.97) and wins (16) in 2017.
Last season, he posted a 14-4 mark with a 3.08 ERA in 23 starts with Seibu. That followed his 2017 campaign that saw him win a league-high 16 games (16-6) and post a league-best 1.97 ERA in 26 starts for the Lions. His 187.2 innings in 2017 were a career high.
Kikuchi is a native of Morioka, Japan (born: June 17, 1991) and pitched for Hanamaki Higashi High School in Japan. Kikuchi helped lead his high school to a runner-up finish at the national high school invitational in April and to the semifinals in the national championship in August before being the top pick in the 2009 NPB Draft. He made his professional debut for Seibu’s minor league team in 2011 and also pitched with Melbourne in the Australian Winter League that year.