There were reports on Tuesday that the Oakland A’s were interested in Hanshin Tigers pitcher Shintaro Fujinami. That interest has manifested into a contract.
According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, the A’s and Fujinami are in agreement on a one year deal for the 2023 season. Passan further notes that Fujinami is expected to join the A’s rotation.
Shintaro Fujinami interesting wild card for Oakland A’s rotation
Having Fujinami join as a starter is an interesting development. Cole Irvin and Paul Blackburn are locked into place, with Drew Rucinski likely targeted for another spot in the rotation. Kyle Muller will get his chances while top prospect Ken Waldichuk is knocking on the door. A.J. Puk was also set to be stretched out as a starter, adding another possible option to the group.
There is no questioning Fujinami’s potential. He showed that he can be an asset last season as he posted a 3.38 ERA and a 1.185 WHiP in his 66.2 innings for the Tigers, striking out 65 batters with 21 walks. However, he also spent time in the minors as the Tigers did not seem to fully trust him, even with his strong showing last season.
He also has plenty of question marks. While Fujinami has excellent stuff, his command is a considerable red flag. He had battled the yips for years before finally getting back on track last season. If he is fully back to form and has his command back, he could be ready to return to the form that made him one of the top pitching prospects in Japan in the mid 2010s. But is that going to be the case? For a one year deal, it is a gamble worth taking for the A’s.
The Oakland A’s have signed Shintaro Fujinami and are planning on slotting him in the rotation. He is the type of lottery ticket that could truly pay off.