The Mariners are interested in signing Yusei Kikuchi
December 11, 2018
Jerry Dipoto is bored.
At least, that's how he characterized things when he described yesterday as his "most boring day ever at the winter meetings." Which, really, is his own fault. He made his flurry of trades before Major League Baseball's annual December meetings and now he's not much more than a spectator, at least for the moment.
Having made those moves already, Dipoto's winter meetings agenda is, by his standards, rather sparse; he wants to bolster his now-depleted bullpen and maybe add a low-cost right-handed-hitting outfielder. Other teams are calling him looking for deals, but they generally want right fielder Mitch Haniger, and Dipoto has said he'd have to be "blown away" by the right offer to part with Mitch and so far the offers haven't impressed. "A handful of teams have taken a handful of passes at Mitch,” Dipoto said. “We’re just not willing to go there."
This being Dipoto, there are, of course, players he would be willing to part with, and one of them has generated some interest. First baseman Carlos Santana, recently acquired from the Phillies in the Jean Segura/J.P. Crawford trade, has been asked about by several teams, most aggressively, it seems, by the Rockies, who had been trying to get Santana from the Phillies before he was traded here. However, the Twins, Astros, Rays, and Indians are also in the mix and it may be best for the Mariners if Dipoto bides his time on Santana until some other things shake out—principally, what happens with former Mariner DH Nelson Cruz. If Cruz signs a free-agent contract with one of those four AL squads, the other three might be more motivated to put a better trade proposal on the table for Santana to compete with whatever Colorado might offer. The Marlins have also inquired about Santana, but they seem like an unlikely trade partner. Sadly, but not unexpectedly, there appears not to be interest in the Mariners' other newly-acquired veteran, Jay Bruce.
Dipoto has also indicated that the Mariners might attempt to land Japanese pitcher Yusei Kikuchi. At first glance that seems odd, given the rebuilding attitude Dipoto has adopted, but he sees the rebuild period as being brief, perhaps only one or to seasons. "We are interested and he does fit our timeline," Dipoto said of the 27-year-old Kikuchi. "Since I don’t think Kikuchi is going to sign a one-year deal, he should be very capable of being a part of what we’re trying to do. Now, whether he wants to come here or not I can’t tell you.” Kikuchi has had significant success in Japan, posting a record of 73-46 with a 2.81 ERA in eight years with the Seibu Lions of Saitama; he was especially impressive in 2017, pitching to a 1.97 ERA over 1872⁄3 innings.
The Mariners have also signed veteran catcher José Lobaton to a minor-league contract with an invite to spring training. The 33-year-old former Met, National, Ray, and Padre holds a career batting line of just .143/.246/.224, but does offer some depth in the system. A similar deal has been signed by pitcher Tommy Milone, a 31-year-old journeyman left-hander last seen in the bigs in 2018 with Washington (career mark of 46-37, 4.42).
Will we see anything more interesting for the M's at the winter meetings? The week is young, and this is Dipoto. Check back in a few days...
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