Oakland Athletics Shintaro Fujinami (29) has achieved his dream of debuting in the major leagues, but there are many mountains to overcome.
On the 24th, Japanese media Chunichi Shimbun published a column by baseball expert Aki Inose about Fujinami’s big league debut, which signed a one-year, 3.25 million dollar (approximately 4 billion won) contract with Oakland.
Fujinami is a right-handed pitcher who recorded 57 wins, 54 losses, 11 holds, and an average ERA of 3.41 in 189 Japanese professional baseball games (994⅓ innings). He is a pitcher who can get a lot of strikeouts with his fastball with a maximum speed of over 160 km/h and a sharp forkball, but he has a weakness that his control is unstable. In high school, he received a better evaluation than Shohei Ohtani (Angels), but unlike Ohtani, who has already grown into the best star in the major leagues, Fujinami can now head to the major leagues. 안전놀이터
Aki predicted, “Looking at the annual salary, there is a high possibility that he will be appointed as a starting pitcher.” “At this point, Oakland’s starting rotation is Cole Irvine, Paul Blackburn, James Caprielian, and Drew, who is aiming to return to the big leagues from NC in the KBO League. Five players are expected, including Luchinski and Fujinami. Except for Luchinski, the rest of the pitchers average 29 years old,” he predicted the Oakland starting rotation.
Many major league clubs looked at Fujinami as a reliever pitcher. However, Oakland offered to give Fujinami a starting pitching opportunity, and Fujinami chose Auckland. Fujinami plans to compete for the starting rotation with Luchinski, who has won 53 wins in the KBO League, in Oakland.
Aki said, “The success of Fujinami, who signed a one-year contract, depends on whether he can produce good results in the first half. If Fujinami retains his starting pitcher position, Oakland, which is rebuilding, will surely trade him and bring in a prospect. Fujinami can also get a chance to play for a stronger team. If you maintain good grades after transferring, you can get a better contract in the free agent market after the season,” explained Fujinami’s best-case scenario.
Conversely, a poor performance in the first half could turn into the worst-case scenario. “The worst-case scenario is that you don’t perform well as a starting pitcher and are converted to a reliever pitcher,” Aki said. A bullpen pitcher with an annual salary of $3.25 million is an obvious non-performing loan to Oakland, a small market team. He has no choice but to take the closer job from Trevor May, who signed a one-year, $7 million contract. However, it is not realistic for a player who was dropped from the starting rotation during the season to take over as a closer. That is why I hope he will keep his starting pitcher position.