Should the Red Sox make a move for Yusei Kikuchi?

BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 18: Dave Dombrowski the President of Baseball Operations of the Boston Red Sox stands at home plate before a game against the New York Yankees at Fenway Park on September 18, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Red Sox won 5-4. (Photo by Rich Gagnon/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 18: Dave Dombrowski the President of Baseball Operations of the Boston Red Sox stands at home plate before a game against the New York Yankees at Fenway Park on September 18, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Red Sox won 5-4. (Photo by Rich Gagnon/Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit

This offseason the Red Sox will get a chance along with the rest of the MLB to bid on the services of Japanese pitcher Yusei Kikuchi. But with the starting rotation already in good shape, is he a necessity?

As the Winter Meetings are fast approaching, General Managers across the league are preparing to wheel and deal to bolster their squads for the next season. The Red Sox will be no different in this sense. Yes, they may be coming off of a record-setting season and World Series title, but there is always room to improve. For the Red Sox, that comes in the pitching department.

Throughout the season the pitching staff could be the most dominant in the league and at other times, they’d crumble under the pressure. So it would make sense to go after a pitcher the level of Kikuchi. That’s where things get tricky.

This offseason Dombrowski will most certainly be most focused on re-signing 2018 postseason heroes Joe Kelly and Nathan Eovaldi. And I fully agree with that as I’ve said before, we wouldn’t have won the World Series without their efforts.

If we did re-sign those two and lose closer Craig Kimbrel, I’d think we’d see both Eovaldi and Kelly work the setup/closer dynamic. This would leave a gap in the starting rotation where Kikuchi could slide right in. Looking at his numbers, Yusei Kikuchi would fit right in with our rotation. He’s a career 74-48 with a 2.81 ERA/925K/381BB, not bad at all.

More from Red Sox News

What worries me about Kikuchi is something we’ve seen in baseball quite a bit over the last few years. These pitchers dominant in Japan and then come over to the States and have some success and then get figured out. We saw it with Hideo Nomo, Junichi Tazawa, and most recently Daisuke Matsuzaka. The level of hitting in the US is off the charts and the Red Sox have spent big money on pitchers before just to get burned. He would also be a fourth lefty in our rotation.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am forever thankful for what these pitchers have done for us. I remember watching Nomo’s no-hitter. I remember watching Tazawa absolutely scorch batters on the way to the 2013 World Series. And to this day I still can’t quite explain what in the world a “Gyroball” is. And if I had a penny for every awful contract we’ve given out, I could own the team.

Knowing how this process works and that the Seibu Lions would be getting a fee for offering Kikuchi up for the MLB, I can’t imagine this will be an inexpensive transaction. The Lions will get a compensation package based on the percentage of what Kikuchi signs for. Which depending on the contract size, could add a hefty weight to the deal.

So with the likelihood that the price tag will be getting raised, I feel like the Sox should stay away. At this time, we really don’t need to add too many ingredients to the dish. Now what gets me a tad nervous is that we never got a chance to even talk to Shohei Ohtani, and this could be a way to make up for it.

President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski did recently mention that the Red Sox were scouting and keeping an eye on Kikuchi but that he wasn’t a major priority. I don’t know if this is GM speak to try and make other teams think we don’t want him just to attack last second, or he really doesn’t want him.

Grading Dombrowski's deals that shaped 2018. dark. Next

I think Yusei Kikuchi could succeed in the MLB from what I’ve seen of him through highlights and read through his stats. It’ll all depend on what team he lands with and how they work with him. We’ve seen players come over and not find the success they once had and then we’ve seen guys like Ichiro, Matsui, and Ohtani be off the charts good.

I think at this time Dombrowksi needs to focus all of his energy on re-signing Kelly and Eovaldi and then maybe finding a bargain for a fifth rotation spot. Boston could do as they did in the playoffs and had Eovaldi penciled in but also ready if he’s needed out of the pen. I don’t know how sustainable that is, but it could work. For now, I think we should pass on Kikuchi and focus our bankroll on getting the right pieces and not the unknown.