Japanese right-hander Wakui could test MLB waters in free agency

Photo Credit: KYODO/Japan Times

According to the Japan Times’ Chiba Lotte Marines’ ace Hidaeki Wakui could see if any MLB teams are interested in signing the 31-year old ace after the Marines’ season comes to a close. 

Due to his age and experience, Wakui would be exempt from the international bonus pools that MLB caps. Which means that if he does declare free agency there could be a bidding war for his services between MLB clubs…despite the down year that he had. 

In 2016, Wakui had a 3.99 ERA while striking out 6.6 batters and walking 3.0 batters per nine innings. This was a down season for the 13-year veteran — his career average ERA is 2.30 — which will probably reduce the demand by major league clubs for Wakui’s services. Because of the down season, Wakui seems to be carefully weighing his options on whether or not he should test free agency; according to MLB Trade Rumors.

While it’s not yet known whether Wakui has made a firm decision, one club exec from Japan tells the Times: “We’ve known how he has always felt (about wanting to play in the majors). He’s an indispensable player to the team but he does have the right (to declare free agency) and it is his dream.”

Teams that need pitching help should definitely keep an eye on what Wakui decides to do, like the Seattle Mariners. Because of the fact that he had a down season, has the age and experience to be exempt from the international bonus pool, and might enter the free agency marke at the same time as Shohei Otani…Wakui could come at a fairly reasonable cost for any state side club. 

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