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Source: Red Sox lukewarm on Japanese pitcher Yusei Kikuchi

Rob Bradford
November 07, 2018 - 4:53 pm

Don't expect another pursuit similar to what we witnessed last offseason.

According to a major league source, the Red Sox' interest in the most highly-touted Japanese pitcher on the market this offseason, Yusei Kikuchi, is viewed as lukewarm. The 27-year-old is slated to be posted by the Seibu Lions this offseason, a process that would need to be done before Dec. 5 with a 30-day negotiating window to follow.

Under the new posting rules, the release fee paid by whatever team acquires Kikuchi is contingent on the value of his MLB contract, starting with 20 percent of the deal's first $25 million, with another 17.5 percent for the next $25 million. An additional 15 percent is then added to any amount over $50 million.

The approach is a far cry from the stance taken by the Red Sox when pursuing Shohei Ohtani last offseason. It was a quest that ultimately fell short, with Ohtani landing with the Angels after not even giving the Sox a meeting.

Speaking to reporters at the GM meetings Tuesday Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski would only say his club has scouted Kikuchi, who went 14-4 with a 3.24 ERA in 23 starts with the Lions last season. For his eight-year pro career in Japan, the starter has a 2.81 ERA.

"He's a guy who has been a quality pitcher there for a while, so we watch him on a regular basis," Dombowski told reporters in Carlsbad, Calif. "Yes, we have a pulse of him."

Kikuchi, who is represented by Scott Boras is viewed by scouts as a No. 3 or 4 starter, possessing a fastball that touches 96 mph.

Here are the new posting regulations (per MLB Trade Rumors): 

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