Japanese right hander Kyuji Fujikawa is drawing interest from a handful of major league teams and could wind up closing games for one of them in 2013.
Fujikawa has been one of Japan’s better closers for several years and posted 41 saves and a 1.24 ERA for the Hanshin Tigers in 2011. During the 2012 campaign, Fujikawa posted a sparkling 1.32 ERA and fanned 11 batters per nine innings. Unlike most of the previous imports from Japan, Fujikawa is a true free agent and there is no posting process to sign him; he’s available to go where he’d like.
According to Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times, Fujikawa would prefer to play on the West coast and is interested in signing with the Angels. Angels GM Jerry Dipoto confirmed to DiGiovanna that his club shares that interest. Fujikawa would also fill a significant need for the Angels as only the Milwaukee Brewers were worse in the back end of the bullpen last season.
“I’ve seen him pitch against major league hitters on a world stage,” Dipoto told the Times. “His talent is not a question.” Fujikawa relies on a low-to-mid 90s fastball, slider, and split-finger and has posted a strikeout-to-walk ratio of nearly 5.5 over the past six years.
The Angels aren’t the only suitor for Fujikawa, but they may be the only one that would offer him a shot to close games. The Dodgers, also known to be interested, just gave Brandon League better than $7 million per year, presumably to close for them. The Rangers have Joe Nathan in place in the ninth inning and the Red Sox have Andrew Bailey. Those clubs plus the Diamondbacks are known to have scouted the 32-year-old right hander.