Oakland Athletics Add Another Starter

Oakland Athletics Add Another Starter
(Photo by Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images)

The Oakland Athletics have added another starter for the 2023 season. This time they went overseas and signed Japanese right-hander Shintaro Fujinami. According to according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan the one-year deal is worth $3.25 million. The deal also allows him to earn an additional $1 million in performance bonuses for starts. There is also a team option for 2024.

Nippon Professional Baseball League

Fujinami spent the past ten seasons with the Hanshin Tigers in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball League. He bounced between the Tigers, and the club’s farm system throughout his career. At all levels in Japanese baseball, he has thrown 1,302 innings, seeing time as both a starter and a reliever. He won 80 games, and has an overall ERA of 3.17.

A Mix of Pitches

The Oakland Athletics’ newest starter brings a fastball that can reach 98-to 100 mph. He also features a splitter, and a slider. Fujinami mostly uses his fastball-slider combination. The slider is his most effective pitch. It results in the most swings and misses. However, that pitch also is the one that gets him into trouble. When it misses the strike zone, Fujinami becomes lost and frustrated on the mound, which has led to walks, wild pitches, and hits-by-pitch.

Two-Way Player

Fujinami comes from the same draft class as superstar Shohei Ohtani. While he is also a hitter, he carries a batting average of just .120 in 252 career at-bats. Whether Oakland uses him as a hitter is yet to be determined, though he certainly could get some at-bats during spring training in 2023. If he shows he can handle major league pitching, he could get some starts during the regular season as a DH or maybe even be used as a pinch hitter.

Fills a Void

Fujinami comes to spring training as a starter, and could be the A’s’  No. 4 pitcher. It appears that the trio of Cole Irvin, Paul Blackburn, and James Kaprielian are set as the top-three. Along with Fujinami, others who will be competing for starting positions are Kyle Muller, JP Sears, and Ken Waldichuk.

Bullpen

It takes time to adjust to major league pitching, at least early on, and Oakland will be patient with him. However, if Fujinami is unable to get his command under control as a starter, or it appears he is struggling, a move to the bullpen might help. He has a lot experience coming out of the bullpen while playing in Japan.

Trade Deadline Option

If he is pitching well, and we know Oakland is not seen as a contender this season, they might consider trading him at the August trade deadline. A contender might take a chance on him and offer a couple of minor league players in return. We know Oakland is always willing to make deals to help further bolster their farm system.

Fans

The Oakland Athletics have added another starter, but there may not be much to cheer about for the fans this season. But at least there will be a new Japanese import who fans will want to follow. We have seen in the past that it is always exciting to see Japanese player come to the major leagues, and showcase their talents. Fujinami brings ten years of experience to the team along with that talent. He just might be someone to watch this season.

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James Marshall

James Marshall

Jim Marshall has lived in Phoenix, AZ for 50 years. He is an avid baseball fan, but enjoys all of Arizona's local sports teams, including Diamondbacks, Suns, Cardinals and Coyotes. In addition to the four major sports, he closely follows the Phoenix Mercury, Arizona Rattlers and Arizona State Sun Devils. Jim's passion for baseball continues beyond the field as he is an avid collector of baseball memorabilia. His favorite athlete of all time is Baseball Hall of Fame member Harmon Killebrew. In addition to watching, reading and talking about sports, he takes time to travel and appreciate the great state of Arizona with his lovely wife, Patti.

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