The Oakland Athletics are in the midst of a quiet but active offseason. On Wednesday, that continued when they reached an agreement with Japanese right-hander Shintaro Fujinami. The deal has not been confirmed by the club, as the physical is pending.
Several teams have been interested in Fujinami since he was posted by the Hanshin Tigers of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball League. The plan is for Fujinami to join the A’s rotation, which may have been a heavy factor in the decision to choose teams.
Fujinami, who turns 29 in April, spent 10 seasons with Hanshin, posting a 3.41 ERA and 1.35 WHIP in 189 games pitched, with 1,011 strikeouts and 459 walks across 994 1/3 innings. He also played for Team Japan in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, tossing two scoreless innings of relief with four strikeouts in his lone appearance against China in the first round of the tournament.
The Japanese pitcher was a highly regarded prospect in the 2012 draft class. The same draft class that included Shohei Ohtani. Fujinami immediately excelled before encountering some troubling command issues about three years into his professional career. Though there have been positive signs over the last couple of years, including his 2022 campaign, during which Fujinami cut down his walk rate to a career-best 7.6% while posting a 3.78 ERA with 65 strikeouts over 66 2/3 innings.
The 6-6 pitcher features a three-pitch arsenal featuring a fastball that has clocked in at 100 MPH, along with a low 90’s splitter and a slider that has flashed plus in the past. Because Shintaro Fujinami went through the NPB posting process, the A’s must pay a “release fee” that is 20% of the guaranteed amount of his contract to the Hanshin Tigers for the right to sign him to a Major League contract.
The Athletics now have some depth to choose from for their rotation. They added Kyle Murphy in the Sean Murphy deal on Dec 12. Also adding Drew Rucinski this offseason. The three additions are added to a list that already includes Cole Irvin, Paul Blackburn, Ken Waldichuk, JP Sears, James Kaprielian, Adrián Martínez, and Adam Oller who all pitched at some point last season.
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