Report: Blue Jays made ‘strong play’ for Kikuchi before Mariners deal

Yusei Kikuchi delivers a pitch. (Kyodo News via AP)

The Toronto Blue Jays made a strong play for Japanese left-hander Yusei Kikuchi before the 27-year-old signed a four-year deal with the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday, according to Jon Heyman of Fancred Sports and MLB Network.

Kikuchi’s contract with the Mariners could be worth up to $109 million over seven seasons, and it guarantees him $56 million. The lefty was 14-4 with a 3.08 ERA for the Pacific League’s Seibu Lions last season after posting a 16-6 record with a 1.97 ERA a year earlier.

While the Blue Jays haven’t traditionally signed many Scott Boras clients in free agency, the agent suggested at last month’s Winter Meetings that Kikuchi would consider Toronto.

“Kikuchi is very global. I think certainly all cities are open to his purview,” Boras said when asked about the possibility of a deal with Toronto.

Like the Mariners, the Blue Jays are looking beyond 2019. In that context, Kikuchi’s youth would likely have appealed to the Toronto front office.

The Blue Jays’ projected 2019 rotation now includes right-handers Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez and newcomers Matt Shoemaker and Clayton Richard. Also available are Ryan Borucki, Sean Reid-Foley and Thomas Pannone, all of whom impressed at times as rookies in 2018.

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