It appears the Mariners have reached an agreement with one of the top starting pitchers remaining on the free-agent market. A report early Monday evening from Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports said Seattle was nearing an agreement with left-hander Yusei Kikuchi.
About two hours later, Jon Heyman and Jon Morosi, both of MLB Network, reported that an agreement has been reached on a four-year contract between the Mariners and Kikuchi.
Sources confirmed Kikuchi visited Seattle a few days ago and met with ownership and the team’s front office. By rule as a player being posted and transferred from Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball, there is a window for the negotiations to take place and deal to be finalized. The deadline for Kikuchi to sign with a team is 2 p.m. Pacific time Wednesday. If he fails to do so, he would return to his team in Japan — the Seibu Lions — for 2019.
Kikuchi’s agent, Scott Boras, told reporters in his annual winter meetings media briefing that he would hold meetings in Los Angeles with teams invited to make their sales pitch for Kikuchi. More than a dozen teams are reported to have interest.