3 Yankees-Mariners trades we’re surprised haven’t happened yet
Yusei Kikuchi #18 of the Seattle Mariners (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
2. Yusei Kikuchi Trade
Yusei Kikuchi arrived in the bigs as a 27-year-old just in time for Opening Day of the 2019 season, which took place against the Oakland A’s in the Toyko Dome in Japan. It was a pretty cool scene that portended great things from the man who was sure to be Seattle’s next great Japanese import.
Unfortunately, things haven’t turned out the way Kikuchi envisioned when he agreed to be posted prior to that campaign; both of his MLB seasons have finished with ERAs over 5.00.
Things did start to trend in the right direction for the buy-low candidate in 2020, though, as his whiff rate climbed close to where it needs to be (47 in 47 innings, following a disappointing and bedeviling 116 in 161.2 innings the year prior).
Most people intentionally ignore the underlying statistics in order to keep up their preconceived notions — in other words, Yusei I only hear what I want to.
There is a lot to like below the surface of what Kikuchi did last season, including his world-class FIP of 3.30 (meaning his true-talent ERA could’ve been a remarkable run-and-a-half lower than his output) and his lowered WHIP, down to 1.298 from 1.515. Bottom line, Kikuchi handled his own business far better in 2020 and controlled the controllables in Year 2.
So, how could the Yankees get Kikuchi?
No matter how much you like the peripheral progress, Kikuchi was still quite bad last year, and is only under contract for 2021 in case he struggles again in Year 3 — there’s an endless stream of team options baked in for every year from 2022 through 2025.
It’s like Trevor Bauer’s obsession with one-year deals except the player has no power at all. Weird!
Without a lot of security or any on-field production to definitively point to, we’d guess Kikuchi could go for just a pair of 40-man guys; perhaps Mike Ford, who the Mariners swiped in the Rule 5 once upon a time?