TOKOROZAWA, SAITAMA PREF. - The Seibu Lions general manager denied Thursday that the club is poised to part with hard-throwing lefty Yusei Kikuchi this autumn.
Haruhiko Suzuki responded brusquely to speculation on MLB.com that Kikuchi may be made available to major league teams through the posting system after this season.
“There is no promise (to post him), there has been no talk of that,” Suzuki said. “Talk regarding individual players is something for once the season ends.”
In his contract negotiations after the 2016 season, Kikuchi raised the issue of being posted in the future but did not bring it up this past autumn. Because he will not be eligible for unlimited free agency this year, Kikuchi can only move abroad if the Lions are willing to accept a percentage of his first major league contract in return for his services.
The Lions won Kikuchi’s negotiating rights in a draft lottery after six teams named him as their first-round pick in 2009. He signed with the Lions despite his stated desire to sign with a major league team right out of high school.
Kikuchi went 16-6 last season with a 1.97 ERA. This season, he is 9-2 with a 3.20 ERA.