Baseball / Japanese Baseball

Ryosuke Kikuchi returning to Carp after failing to secure MLB contract

Kyodo

Hiroshima Carp infielder Ryosuke Kikuchi on Friday doubled down on his allegiance to the Central League club, giving up a bid to move to the majors while signing a four-year contract extension.

Kikuchi, a seven-time Golden Glove winner, had until 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Jan. 2, 2020, to secure a deal with any of the 30 MLB teams after being posted by the Carp earlier this month.

Kikuchi’s new deal will pay him an estimated ¥300 million ($2.7 million) a year with additional incentives.

“My No.1 priority was to have no regrets over this, and in the end that meant playing with the Carp,” Kikuchi said

His agent, Mike Seale, told Kyodo News earlier this month that a key issue was the team’s belief in Kikuchi’s ability to play on the left side of the infield. With the exception of a handful of games for the Carp and Japan’s national team at shortstop, everyone has been content to leave the defensive star at second base where he shined the brightest.

“Given how slow the market is, I decided that if the situation continued it would be better to tell the team early that I will stay,” Kikuchi said during a news conference at Mazda Stadium. “I gave this a lot of thought.”

Hiroshima had indicated it would renew Kikuchi’s contract if he was unable to move to the majors.

The 29-year-old was the Carp’s second-round pick out of university in 2011 and helped Hiroshima win three straight Central League pennants from 2016 to 2018.

He hit 13 home runs with 48 RBIs and batted .261 with 14 stolen bases over 138 games this season.