Where will the former NPB ace begin his Major League Baseball career? Will it be with the San Diego Padres?
The deadline to sign with a Major League Baseball franchise is quickly approaching for former Seibu Lions ace Yusei Kikuchi. Kikuchi and his mega-agent Scott Boras have less than a week to agree to terms with an MLB club and news surrounding the move has been largely quiet since early on in the winter meetings. Are the San Diego Padres still in the running to land the left-handed starter?
All we really know at this point is that Kikuchi wants to sign with a California team and remain on the west coast. The front-runners appear to be the Seattle Mariners and San Francisco Giants with the Padres staying back and keeping an eye on the market.
Before the holidays, The Athletic’s Dennis Lin noted that the Padres interest in Kikuchi was “tempered” and that San Diego has no interest in getting into a bidding war over the Japanese star who went 14-4 with a 3.08 ERA and 1.03 WHIP last season as the ace of the NPB’s Seibu Lions.
This type of news has been a common trend during the offseason for the San Diego Padres. It has been openly stated on numerous occasions by both AJ Preller and Andy Green that the team plans on upgrading their starting rotation, yet every big rumor and connection to a starting pitcher is quickly dismissed.
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Noah Syndergaard rumors dominated the early offseason, but those talks fell through once Fernando Tatis Jr.was declared untouchable and the Mets suddenly began to believe they will compete in 2019. More recently, reports have surfaced that the Padres are in discussions with the Toronto Blue Jays and Cleveland Indians for starting pitchers Marcus Stroman and Corey Kluber.
A move for Corey Kluber would make a big statement, while a deal for Stroman would bring more risks but seems to fit what the Padres want a little more. Regardless, San Diego Union-Tribune’s Kevin Acee immediately shut down both of these trade proposals, saying
"Among hundreds of conversations #Padres have had with other teams are ones about deals that would include Corey Kluber and Marcus Stroman. While the Padres could still add a starting pitcher for 2019, it won’t be one of those two."
So, if we take Lin and Acee’s comments, the Padres want pitching help but it won’t be Stroman, Kluber, or Kikuchi. There isn’t a problem in letting Chris Paddack, Logan Allen, Matt Strahm, and others get their reps and show off their stuff in 2019, a non-contending year for San Diego, however, it’s becoming frustrating to routinely read that the team is actively looking for starting pitching help and then immediately read that any connection to said help should be ignored.
Yes, there is still just over a month left in the offseason to make moves, but do you get the sense that the “pitching help” the Padres are said to be looking for will be nothing more than a Chris Young/Tyson Ross type signing that we saw late last offseason?