Yusei Kikuchi, Blue Jays Agree to A Three-Year Deal

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Yusei Kikuchi is heading to the Toronto Blue Jays. The left-hander agreed to a three-year, $36 million contract. MLB Insider Jon Heyman was the first to report the news on Twitter. Kikuchi earned his first All-Star nod in 2021 with the Seattle Mariners. Before the lockout, Heyman reported that Toronto made a “strong push” for the pitcher as soon as he left the JPL to MLB.

Kikuchi presents an option to take pressure off of Nate Pearson at the back of the rotation. Furthermore, it will give Pearson, Trent Thornton, and Ross Stripling a chance to be the sixth starter or come out of the bullpen. Last year, he posted his best season in North America, finishing with a 7-9 record with a 4.41 ERA in 157 innings. He opted out with the Mariners with $13 million on the table. There are plenty of reasons why he’s a natural fit for Toronto. In 2021, he pitched well against the AL East, posting a 3.89 ERA against Toronto’s four division foes. However, there are reasons for concern. After the All-Star break, Kikuchi posted a 5.98 ERA as opponents hit .300 against him.

The signing comes less than a day after the Blue Jays signed reliever Andrew Vasquez to a major league deal. A southpaw like Kikuchi, Vasquez has 6 2/3 MLB innings to his credit across stints with the Minnesota Twins and Los Angeles Dodgers. His primary choice of pitch is a looping curveball. Before the lockout, Toronto signed reliever Yimi García to a two-year, $11-million contract. Then, they signed right-handed starter Kevin Gausman to a five-year, $110-million deal.

The Blue Jays now have themselves have an excellent rotation. With another pitcher to the rotation, Kikuchi will likely be the fifth starter with Alek Manoah, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Jose Bérríos, and Gausman ahead of him.

Players Mentioned:

Yusei Kikuchi, Alek Manoah, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Kevin Gausman, Jose Bérríos, Andrew Vasquez, Yimi García, Trent Thornton, Ross Stripling