Multiple teams reportedly are interested in Japanese left-hander Yusei Kikuchi, the most recent of which is the Giants, as noted by Henry Schulman of The San Francisco Chronicle.
First bonafide Winter Meetings factoid: Yusei Kikuchi really likes San Francisco as a potential landing spot. #sfgiants might be his first choice. From a good source not named Scott Boras.— Henry Schulman (@hankschulman) December 10, 2018
Kikuchi was 74-48 with a 2.81 ERA across eight seasons in Japan. Sung Min Kim of The Athletic provided NBC Sports Bay Area with a scouting report on the 27-year-old.
"He's a lefty who throws 92-95 mph and has touched 98," Kim said. "His slider is a sure major league pitch, and he can get a lot of strikeouts. He also throws a change and curve."
Kim, who has seen Kikuchi pitch 15 to 20 times, also touched on Kikuchi's injury concerns, saying it's just that -- a concern.
In a previous article he wrote for Sporting News, Kim mentioned that the states were extremely interested in him at one point. As a matter of fact, the Rangers recruited Derek Holland in 2009 in an effort to also recruit Kikuchi, who was 18 at the time. But he chose to stay in Japan and wanted to be drafted by an NPB team.
There was a concern, however -- well, a snafu if you will: A legality problem with Kikuchi's motion.
During an August 2017 game, the umpires "deemed he was making an illegal double-kicking motion," which forced him to change his delivery mid-game.
It appeared it didn't maim Kikuchi's career, but it was brought up to the point where there were worries he would have to expedite his debut to the majors.
To say a pitcher of his caliber is a huge want in baseball is an understatement. It doesn't matter how deep your rotation and bullpen is. But when it comes to Kikuchi's performance, the only thing that needs to be deep is the pockets of pursuing teams.