The Seibu Lions have posted left-hander Yusei Kikuchi to the major leagues, the Pacific League champions announced Monday.
Kikuchi, 27, applied to Nippon Professional Baseball, and the league in turn informed Major League Baseball, according to the team. He needed his club’s approval to move via the posting system as he will not be eligible for international free agency until 2020.
“I have only gratitude to Seibu for approving the posting,” Kikuchi said. “I want to focus on what I can do in order to get a solid outcome.”
After all 30 major league teams have been notified of the posting, Kikuchi will have 30 days to negotiate a contract or he will remain with the Lions. He has hired high-profile agent Scott Boras, who negotiated for former Lions ace Daisuke Matsuzaka when he signed with the Boston Red Sox in 2006, to represent him.
Kikuchi was one of the top pitchers in Japan this year, helping Seibu finish with the best record in the Pacific League.
He went 14-4 and struck out 153 batters over 163⅔ innings. He led the Pacific League with a .778 winning percentage and finished third in strikeouts. Kikuchi, who made 23 appearances on the mound, ended the season with a 3.08 ERA for Seibu.
He was named to the PL’s Best Nine team after the season, having been voted as the league’s top pitcher in a poll of Japan’s baseball media.
Kikuchi was selected by the Lions in the 2009 draft and is 73-46 with one save and a 2.77 ERA in his NPB career.
Under the current system, a team posting a player to the majors will receive a fee based on an agreed percentage of the value of the contract, bonuses and incentives.
Posting fees equal 20 percent of the first $25 million, 17.5 percent of the next $25 million and 15 percent of the remainder. In addition, the NPB team posting a player will receive 15 percent of incentives earned as well as options and bonuses paid.
Up to last offseason, Japanese teams could demand a transfer fee up to $20 million for any player made available to the majors regardless of their contract amount. In order to get $20 million under the new system, a player’s contract would have to exceed $120.83 million.