Milwaukee Brewers: LHP Yusei Kikuchi A Potential Target?
By David Gasper
The Milwaukee Brewers are still searching for an addition to the top of their rotation. Maybe they should look outside the country for their next target.
27-year-old Japanese left hander Yusei Kikuchi will be posted by his NPB team, the Seibu Lions. The Milwaukee Brewers, like every other MLB team, will likely have interest in trying to sign him.
With the current options on the free agent and trade market only available at extremely high prices, perhaps GM David Stearns will see this as a less expensive way to upgrade his team.
How Good Is Yusei Kikuchi?
Kikuchi posted a 1.97 ERA in 26 starts in 2017. While most scouts compare NPB to Triple-A in the United States, a 1.97 ERA in Triple-A is still very impressive.
In 2018, Kikuchi finished with a 3.08 ERA, which was his highest since 2014. He’s been fairly dominant over in Japan for several seasons now, and he’s earned a chance at the highest level in MLB.
At 27 years old, Kikuchi is just entering his physical prime, making him a strong target for GM David Stearns.
Kikuchi has a four pitch mix and a deceptive delivery, giving him a strong base with which to work from. He’s been clocked at 98 MPH on his fastball, and has a deceptive left-handed delivery. That sounds a lot like Josh Hader, without as good of hair, but the ability to start. That should intrigue the Milwaukee Brewers.
Why Should Kikuchi Want The Brewers?
By deciding to join the Brewers, Kikuchi will immediately join a contending team and he can step into a rotation that is lacking a left-handed starter. While most teams that have been connected to him are on the West Coast, the Brewers are known to be one of the teams that’s been scouting him.
While the Brewers wouldn’t get the same kind of team control over Kikuchi as the Angels did with Shohei Ohtani last winter, this is still a desirable situation for the team if they can sign him.
The Brewers don’t have a large amount of payroll flexibility this winter, but they should have enough to land Kikuchi if they want to. His price tag won’t be through the roof, considering he hasn’t pitched in MLB before.
Instead of joining a rebuilding team on the West Coast, Kikuchi can join a contender in America’s heartland, giving himself a chance to pitch on a much larger stage in October.
If the Milwaukee Brewers truly don’t find any of the current free agent options to their liking, and none of the trade options materialize, Kikuchi is a nice fallback to boost this rotation.