The Giants continue to collect pitchers with spring training invites to compete for spots on the big league pitching staff, having added former Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Shun Yamaguchi on what is reported to be a split major-league/minor-league deal.
Yamaguchi, 33, made his MLB debut with Toronto in 2020 after a 14-year career in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball with Yomiuri and Yokohama. Yamaguchi struggled in his first year, with a 8.06 ERA in 17 appearances. He gave up runs in bunches in the unusual season, with six runs, four unearned, in his first two games alone, just one inning of work across two experiences. He also gave up seven runs in a single game, all earned, against the Yankees in September. In 2019 in Japan, Yamaguchi had a 2.78 ER in 28 games, throwing 181.0 innings, with 194 strikeouts and 64 walks.
The Blue Jays had signed Yamaguchi to a 2-year, $6.35 million contract before the 2020 season. The Blue Jays released Yamaguchi on February 13th, and will pay him the $3.175 million he is owed in 2021. That is why the reported deal with the Giants is that he’ll be on a split contract, as the Giants will sign him to a minor league deal to let him work on getting back to the bigs and getting back his form from his time in NPB.
Yamaguchi worked in 2020 mostly with a low-90’s fastball and a splitfinger offspeed pitch.
If Yamaguchi heads to Sacramento to start the season, it will be interesting to see if the Giants try to put him back into a starting role as he held in Japan, or if they’ll keep him in the bullpen as Toronto did. In the bullpen, he could give the Giants depth as a multi-inning reliever.