The Yankees have scouted Japanese LHP Yusei Kikuchi "extensively," GM Brian Cashman told reporters Monday at the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas.
In addition to the Yankees, the Giants, Red Sox, Dodgers, Phillies, Brewers, and Rangers are among the teams who have also scouted Kikuchi.
The Yanks, who remain engaged with free agent J.A. Happ and have interest in trading tor Indians ace Corey Kluber, are looking to add one more starter after striking a trade for James Paxton earlier this offseason.
Kikuchi had a 3.08 ERA and 1.03 WHIP with 153 strikeouts in 163.2 innings (23 starts) for Seibu this past season.
During his eight-year career in Japan, he has a 2.81 ERA and 1.17 WHIP with 925 strikeouts in 1,035.1 innings.
"It is always a bit tricky to find MLB comparisons for Asian league players," Sung Min Kim wrote for FanGraphs in February when discussing Kikuchi. "The closest I can think for Kikuchi is Patrick Corbin, another lefty starting pitcher who features a heavy fastball-slider combo. However, Kikuchi does throw a curveball around 10% of the time, whilst Corbin does not really feature it. Another good comparison could be early-career Clayton Kershaw."
According to Kim, one concern about Kikuchi is his injury history, which limited his innings pitched prior to 2016.
"Whoever bids big on him is also rolling the dice for his good health in the future," Kim noted. "If he is able to stay healthy and translate his newfound efficiency to the majors, then he'll be a formidable rotation weapon."
Under the new posting rules that went into effect last offseason, Kikuchi will have 30 days to negotiate with all teams. If he agrees to a contract, a portion of it will go to his old Japanese team as their release fee.