Texas Rangers give Kohei Arihara the best opportunity to shine

The Texas Rangers have signed Kohei Arihara to a two-year deal.

Fans of the Texas Rangers received one more late Christmas gift before heading off to bed on Friday night, a brand new starting pitcher.

Per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Texas Rangers have signed right-handed pitcher Kohei Arihara, formerly of the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters of Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan.

MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand is reporting that the deal is a two-year contract worth $6-7 million. Arihara had reportedly narrowed down his options to the Texas Rangers, San Diego Padres, and Boston Red Sox before making his final decision.

Electing to begin his career in the United States with the Rangers is not only a solid signing on a reportedly great deal for Texas, but heading off to the Lone Star State gives Arihara the best opportunity to be the focal point of the starting rotation.

A six-year pro in the NBP, Arihara, 28, owns a career 61-53 record with a 3.65 ERA and 1.195 WHIP, thanks in large part to allowing just 2.0 BB/9 IP across his career. Many scouting reports believe that his stuff will translate well enough in Major League Baseball to be a solid backend starter, but he’s going to have a bigger opportunity now that he’s going to Texas.

After trading away Lance Lynn to the Chicago White Sox, the Texas Rangers are left with a starting rotation in desperate need of additional talent.

Kyle Gibson, 33, projects to be a top of the rotation arm for Texas in 2021, coming off a season in which he posted a 5.39 FIP and was worth just 0.3 Wins Above Replacement.

Behind Gibson are the likes of Jordan Lyles, a 2020 free agent signing who did not fare well in his first season with the Rangers (7.02 ERA), and younger, less experienced arms like Kolby Allard and the recently acquired Dane Dunning.

With a good spring training, there’s a real possibility that Kohei Arihara begins the year as a top of the rotation arm with the Texas Rangers, an opportunity he wouldn’t have if he would have signed with the Padres or Red Sox.

Arihara doesn’t have the long track record of success like Tomoyuki Sugano does, but he does a great job of limiting walks and using a vast number of pitches in his repertoire to keep hitters off-balanced, despite not having an overpowering fastball.

Arihara will now have a prime opportunity to make a big name for himself in Major League Baseball and provide a bit more stability to a Texas Rangers starting rotation in need of some help ahead of the 2021 season.