Yusei Kikuchi. (Getty / Kyodo)
Yusei Kikuchi and the Seattle Mariners will separate teams after the left-handed pitcher turned down his one-year, $ 13 million player option to become a free agent, the team said Wednesday.
The 30-year-old Japanese had a contract that included both the player option and a series of four one-year team options from 2022 to 2025 worth 66 million dollars. He chose to test the free agency after the team refused to exercise the option.
Kikuchi joined the Mariners in 2019 after a fantastic eight-year career in Japan with the Seibu Lions, but he struggled to reach similar heights in Seattle. He went 15-24 with an ERA of 4.97 in 70 starts over three major league seasons.
Kikuchi received his first All-Star selection this summer. He had a strong first half of the season, but he faded over the last few months. He finished 2021 with a record of 7-9 and an ERA of 4.41 in 29 starts.
“It is possible that after ending 2021 on a downturn, having lost the rotation space over the past week, he may be motivated to return to his home country after three seasons in the majors,” a writer on mlb.com speculated.
Elsewhere, Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Yoshitomo Tsutsugo also chose to join the free agency.