According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, the Oakland Athletics have signed right-hander Shintaro Fujinami to a one-year deal. Fujinami was submitted to Major League Baseball’s “publishing system” back in December by the Hanshin Tigers of Nippon’s Japanese professional baseball league.
The 28-year-old Fujinami was once considered a rival to the two-sided Los Angeles Angels phenom Shohei Otani. Alas, fate did not provide him with such a glorious career as in the case of Otani. Instead, Fujinami faced some turbulence on the way to a career 3.17 ERA, mostly in the form of sporadic control. Namely, his career walking pace exceeds four for nine innings.
Evaluators who spoke to CBS Sports about Fujinami in December expected him to play a feeder role in the majors thanks to the strength of his mid-90s fastball and splitter. Passan, however, got Fujinami to crack the A spin. Given the dismal state of Oakland’s roster, you could think of this as a win-win situation: either he beats expectations and becomes a compelling trade candidate, or he doesn’t and he helps lottery draft chances.
Here’s what Sports Info Solutions had to say about Fujinami before it was published:
The splitter was his best strike serve and his most used two-strike serve, narrowly beating his fastball in both two-strike usage and outs. In addition to a solid 34% smell rate, batters also struggled to do anything with the splitter when it was introduced into the game. His splitters landed 66% of the time, and his batters landed only 9% of hard hits on the field.
Fujinami is the latest in a string of low-key free agents the Athletics have made this winter, joining a collection that includes infielders Jace Peterson and Aledmis Diaz, as well as right-handers Drew Ruczynski and Trevor May. The A’s also received support from Manny Pin and outfielder Esteuri Ruiz as a result of the trade.