SEATTLE – Left-handed pitcher Yusei Kikuchi will leave the Seattle Mariners after the team rejected an All-Star option from the club and Kikuchi opted for free agency.
Kikuchi could have exercised a one-year player option, but is instead choosing a fresh start elsewhere after struggling through the second half of last season.
Seattle also announced Wednesday that it would not opt for third baseman Kyle Seager, a move that has long been expected.
Kikuchi’s fate was one of the big questions for Seattle heading into the offseason. By the first half of 2021, it seemed likely the team would exercise the option on the Japanese southpaw after he went 6-4 with a 3.48 ERA and was Seattle’s only All-Star pick.
But Kikuchi collapsed in the second half of the season and had to be pulled from the rotation during Seattle’s bid for a postseason berth in recent weeks. Kikuchi was 1-5 with a 5.98 ERA in his last 13 starts. In three of his last four starts, Kikuchi didn’t last more than three innings.
“Not the way I think someone imagined the season would end for him, certainly the way it started,” manager Scott Servais said after the season. “But you have to make adjustments, you have to do what is best for the team and at that moment I thought it was the best for the team.”
If Seattle had exercised its option on Kikuchi, it would have tied him up for $ 66 million over four years, but the Mariners didn’t seem willing to make that commitment based on his second-half performance.
If Kikuchi had exercised his player option, it would have been for $ 13 million for one season.
Kikuchi was 15-24 with a 4.97 ERA in 70 starts in three seasons.
The change with Seager was expected from the beginning of the season. His option would have been for $ 20 million, but both parties seemed ready for the relationship to come to an end. Seager will receive a $ 2 million exit purchase.
The split seemed evident on the final day of the regular season when Seager was tearfully pulled from the final as his final farewell after 11 seasons with the club.
Seager, who turned 34 on Wednesday, hit 35 home runs and drove in 101 runs. The increase in power production caused his batting average to drop to .212, his career low for a full season.
Seager made the All-Star degree and won the Gold Glove in 2014. He signed a seven-year, $ 100 million contract after the 2014 season.