Yusei Kikuchi is officially cleared to make his way across the Pacific after his Japanese team, the Seibu Lions, posted the star left-hander on Monday.
The posting gives Kikuchi and his agent, Scott Boras, a 30-day window to negotiate a big-league contract. He'll pitch for the Lions in 2019 if no deal is reached. Kikuchi had to request to be posted in order to jump to the majors because he's ineligible for international free agency until 2020.
"I have only gratitude to Seibu for approving the posting," he said, according to Kyodo News. "I want to focus on what I can do in order to get a solid outcome."
All 30 teams can begin negotiating with Kikuchi on Tuesday at 8:00 a.m. ET, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post. The posting agreement, as currently constructed, states that the MLB team Kikuchi joins will pay the Lions a fee equal to a percentage of his deal's guaranteed value plus a percentage of any performance bonuses earned and contract options exercised.
The Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, and Seattle Mariners are among the teams believed to be involved in the Kikuchi sweepstakes, Jon Heyman of Fancred Sports reported earlier this week. Kikuchi is expected to have a "strong" market for his services, according to Heyman.
A high-school teammate of Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani, Kikuchi drew extensive interest from MLB teams as a teenager. He nearly jumped directly to the majors and had meetings with several teams but eventually elected to stay in Japan when Seibu drafted him.
Kikuchi posted a 3.08 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, and 153 strikeouts in 163 2/3 innings this year and was voted to the Pacific League's "Best Nine" team. He's known for his blistering fastball, which has averaged between 92-94 mph and can reach as high as 98 mph, according to MLB.com's David Adler.
The 27-year-old owns a career NPB record of 73-46 with a 2.77 ERA and 903 strikeouts in eight seasons with Seibu.