Reports: Blue Jays sign Yusei Kikuchi to 3-year deal

·2 min read
Yusei Kikuchi gives the Blue Jays another left-handed starter. (Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports)
Yusei Kikuchi gives the Blue Jays another left-handed starter. (Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports)

The Toronto Blue Jays have filled out their starting rotation with a veteran arm.

Toronto signed pitcher Yusei Kikuchi to a three-year deal worth $36 million on Saturday, according to multiple reports. The contract is front-loaded, with the Japanese southpaw set to earn $16 million in 2022, then $10 million in each of the following two seasons, per USA Today's Bob Nightengale.

Kikuchi was an all-star in 2021, posting a 4.41 ERA in 157 innings with the Seattle Mariners. His campaign was a tale of two seasons, as he logged a 3.48 ERA in the first half and 5.98 ERA in the second.

The 30-year-old owns a career 4.97 ERA across three MLB seasons, all coming with the Mariners.

Kikuchi joins a Blue Jays rotation that already features Jose Berrios, Kevin Gausman, Alek Manoah and Hyun Jin Ryu. High-ceiling prospect Nate Pearson and swingman Ross Stripling are also options for manager Charlie Montoyo should injuries arise. The addition of Kikuchi gives the Blue Jays a very formidable and deep starting staff that many teams would be envious of.

The move is just the latest piece of business from general manager Ross Atkins and Co. this winter. The club locked up Berrios to a seven-year extension, then replaced Cy Young winner Robbie Ray with Gausman prior to the MLB lockout. Yimi Garcia and Andrew Vasquez were also brought in to bolster the bullpen.

While plenty of work has already been done this offseason, Toronto is still expected to pursue an upgrade on the infield either through trade or free agency, according to Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith.

The Blue Jays finished with a strong 91-71 record in 2021, which was only good enough for fourth place in the difficult American League East. With their combination of special young talent and established veterans, they should once again challenge for a playoff spot this season, if not a division title.

Toronto opens its 2022 season at home against the Texas Rangers on April 8.

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