Yusei Kikuchi Enters Free Agency

Seattle Mariners’ Yusei Kikuchi pitches against the Oakland Athletics during the second inning of a baseball game in Oakland, Calif., Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021. eft-handed pitcher Yusei Kikuchi is leaving the Seattle Mariners after the team declined a club option on the All-Star and Kikuchi opted for free agency. The Mariners announced the decision with Kikuchi on Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021. Jeff Chiu/AP

Left hander Yusei Kikuchi enters free agency. Yusei leaves $13 million on the table, with a four year, $66 million alternative on Yusei turned down by the Mariners. It is questionable if there would have been a place for him on the roster to be in the rotation.   

Career As A Mariner

Before entering free agency, Yusei had a great career as a Mariner. Yusei signed his contract with the Mariners in January 2019. It was a $56 million for four years. From 2019-2020 his ERA fell from 5.46 to 5.17. How did he drop his ERA? He worked on his FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching), taking it from 5.71 to 3.28. There were 36 home runs allowed in 2019. In 2020, he had nine starts on the mound and he allowed only three home runs. 

What pitch did he throw that presented hitters problems? His hard cutter. 

In the 2021 season, before exiting the rotation, he allowed 27 home runs. In one of his final four starts he stayed in the game five innings. This season he started 29 games. In the first half of the season, his ERA was 3.48 in 16 starts. He also earned a place on the American League All-Star Team. This season, he ended with a 4.41 ERA. He began 70 games total, ending with a career ERA of 4.97 with the Mariners. 

What Is Next For Yusei ?

As a free agent, it will be interesting to see where he ends up. There is a possibility that he goes back home to Japan. He played for Seibu for nine seasons before coming to America to play for the Mariners. Time will tell what baseball field he lands on next. 

What Is Next For The Mariners

What is next for the Mariners? Who will take Yusei Kikuchi spot in the rotation next season? Great questions.

The Mariners are shopping. Quite a few options out there. A few pitchers returning are Marco Gonzales, Chris Flexen, Logan Gilbert, Justus Sheffield, and Justin Dunn. Rookies returning consist of George Kirby and Matt Brash; there is a possibility they can earn a spot in the rotation next season. Mariners want to leave spots open in the rotation for the younger pitchers for when they are ready to move up. A pitcher from a Minor League team within the organization could be called up. A free agent on the market from another organization could also be chosen for the job. There are plenty of talented pitchers to choose from.

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