Four MLB teams eyeing Japanese star Haruki Nishikawa
MLB Trade Rumors 2hrs ago

In early December, the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters made center fielder Haruki Nishikawa available to major league teams via the posting system. That opened a 30-day window for MLB clubs to work out an agreement with Nishikawa; otherwise, the 28-year-old would return to the Fighters for at least another season.

Count the Astros among the teams that are interested in Haruki Nishikawa. © Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports Count the Astros among the teams that are interested in Haruki Nishikawa.

January 2 marks the final day of Nishikawa’s posting window, as was first noted last month by Jon Morosi of MLB.com. While no one knows if the left-handed hitter will put pen to paper in the coming hours, it seems he has attracted the attention of a few MLB teams. Japan’s Nikkan Sports reported earlier this week (Japanese-language link) that the Astros, Blue Jays, Cardinals and Diamondbacks were among those with interest in the outfielder. It isn’t clear if any of those four (or any other MLB club) has actually put forth a formal offer, however.

Over parts of nine seasons at Japan’s highest level, Nishikawa has hit .286/.382/.394. He’s coming off a very strong 2020 seasons with the Fighters, wherein he slashed .306/.430/.396 with more walks than strikeouts across 523 plate appearances. Nishikawa has never been much of a power threat, but he’s consistently hit for high batting averages and drawn plenty of walks.

If Nishikawa were to come to an agreement with an MLB team, the signing team would owe a release fee to the Fighters. That fee, which comes on top of the contract paid to the player himself, is equal to 20 percent of the contract’s first $25M, plus 17.5 percent of the next $25M and 15 percent of any dollars thereafter. Nishikawa’s track record in NPB is lesser than that of countryman Shogo Akiyama, who inked a three-year, $21M deal with the Reds last winter. It’d be a surprise to see Nishikawa top that mark, so in all likelihood his posting fee will fall squarely into that first tier, the 20 percent bracket. Nishikawa’s former Fighters teammate, right-hander Kohei Arihara, signed with the Rangers last week.

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