Baseball / MLB

Shun Yamaguchi, Blue Jays finalize two-year deal

Kyodo

Pitcher Shun Yamaguchi has signed a deal with the Toronto Blue Jays, the team said on its official website on Friday.

The 32-year-old right-hander was the first-ever player posted to the majors by the Yomiuri Giants when the NPB team made him available for negotiation with all 30 MLB clubs earlier this month.

U.S. media has reported that he agreed to a two-year, more than $6 million contract with the American League East team.

Yamaguchi had until 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Jan. 2, 2020, to secure a deal with any of the 30 teams.

The Oita Prefecture native is the second Japanese player to enter the AL East through the posting system this winter following Yokohama Baystars slugger Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, who signed a two-year, $12 million deal with the Tampa Bay Rays.

The pair join two-time All Star pitcher Masahiro Tanaka of the New York Yankees in the five-team division.

Yamaguchi turned pro out of high school in 2006 with the Yokohoma BayStars, starting out as a reliever and later establishing himself as the team’s closer.

He transitioned to a starting role in 2014 and three years later joined Yomiuri.

This year, Yamaguchi went 15-4 with a 2.91 ERA.

Yamaguchi led the Central League with 188 strikeouts and a .789 winning percentage while tying Kohei Arihara of the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters for the NPB lead in wins, and helped the Giants clinch their first pennant in five years.

In 427 NPB regular-season games, Yamaguchi has a 64-58 record with a 3.35 ERA and 112 saves.

The club finished fourth in the AL East this season for the third year in a row.

Ex-NPB pitchers Tomokazu Ohka and Munenori Kawasaki have also suited up for the Blue Jays in the past.