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Kikuchi deal coming?

According to Yahoo! Sports, the Mariners are close to signing Japanese southpaw Yusei Kikuchi to a multi-year contract. Details are sparse, but due to the rules of the posting arrangement with Nippon Professional Baseball, Kikuchi must sign by January 2nd or forfeit is right to leave NPB for 2019.

Kikuchi had reportedly been open to signing with any Major League team when his posting became official early in December and has met with several clubs.

An eight-year NPB veteran, all with the Saitama Seibu Lions, Kikuchi holds a career record of 74-48 with a 2.81 ERA and 1.177 WHIP to go with a 2.43 K:BB ratio. Last season he went 14-4 for the first-place Lions.

Should Kikuchi sign with the M's, he would join a starting rotation with Marco Gonzales, Felix Hernández, Mike Leake, and Wade LeBlanc currently slotted into the other four spots.

The Mariners are hurting for pitching after dealing away their ace, James Paxton, to the Yankees in November and emptying the bullpen in other trades and via letting free agents walk.

Some of of Kikuchi's strikeouts for Seibu last year are below. ("Sanshin" = "strike three.")

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