Boras: Kikuchi interest “intense”

Agent Scott Boras tells a throng of reporters at the winter meetings in Las Vegas about his clients.


LAS VEGAS – Agent Scott Boras called the interest in Seibu Lions left-hander Yusei Kikuchi “intense” on Wednesday, when he held court at baseball’s winter meetings.

Kikuchi has been on the market since Dec. 5, has already had his physical, and is expected to arrive in Los Angeles in the coming days, Boras said.

“He’s the only 27-year-old left-handed starting pitcher on the market,” Boras said “He’s viewed very differently, because of the acquistion cost. You have to pay a posting fee. Clubs feel he has a very fresh arm, unlike a lot of Japanese pitchers. He did not throw in NPB at 18 or 19, so he has very limited innings compared to some of the other Japanese pitchers that have come over.”

“We think the teams are very aware of his value. Remember, too, that a Japanese pitcher of reputation may offer major league teams an economic incentive. Because there’s a lot about the partnership with Japanese companies that bring value. They’re very pleased about having in their market place a star Japanese player.”

Kikuchi has been deactivated three times when the Seibu Lions attributed the reason as shoulder issues:

When he was left off the Opening Day roster in his first year (2010) and was not activated until the end of September.
When he missed one start in the middle of the 2013 season.
When he missed five weeks at the start of this past season with shoulder stiffness.

“People write that he’s had a history of shoulder trouble, but that is not accurate,” a member of Boras’ staff said.

When he was Daisuke Matsuzaka’s agent in 2006, Boras reportedly encouraged Matsuzaka to turn down a last-minute offer from the Boston Red Sox and return to his Japanese club, the same Seibu Lions. But at that time, posted players were limited to speaking with the lone team that bid the highest for his negotiating rights in a closed bid.

“If we strike a deal we could have it done in a short period of time,” Boras said. “We’re still negotiating,” Boras said. “Normally, you get things done in advance of a deadline, because that makes it a little more difficult. I’m sure he’ll have a deal before Jan. 2.”

“We’ve had many meetings. We have all of his physicals in order for the team. And all that’s final. He’s ready to sign at any time.”

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