The Hanshin Tigers of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball organization have posted 28-year-old pitcher Shintaro Fujinami, a source told MLB.com’s Jon Paul Morosi on Thursday. Interested MLB teams have 30 days to reach an agreement with Fujinami, or he will return to NPB for the 2023 season.
Fujinami, a 6-foot-6, 180-pound right-hander, features a fastball that reaches triple digits on the radar gun and was compared to current Angels two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani on the mound when the two emerged from the same NPB draft class in 2013.
Inconsistency has marked Fujinami’s decade in Japanese professional baseball -- over his first four seasons, from age 19-22, his ERA fluctuated between 2.40 and 3.53, and he consistently had strikeout-per-nine-innings rates between 8 and 10. But in 2017, his walk rate jumped to 16.6 percent, leading to a demotion to the Minor Leagues.
Fujinami continued to struggle with his control through 2021, shuttling between the Minors and the NPB. Last season, he rebounded in 16 NPB starts, pitching to a 3.38 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP while reducing his walk rate to 7.6 percent.
Given his history, it will be interesting to see what type of contract the highest MLB bidder is willing to offer Fujinami. According to the Japanese posting rules, the Major League club that signs a posted player will pay a “release fee” to the player’s Japanese team of 20 percent of the first guaranteed $25 million of the contract, 17.5 percent of the next $25 million, and 15 percent of any amount exceeding $50 million.