The pursuit of relief help could take the Angels to the Pacific Rim, with General Manager Jerry Dipoto confirming on Thursday that there is a mutual interest between the team and free-agent closer Kyuji Fujikawa.
“There’s an attraction there for the player and for us,” Dipoto said of Fujikawa, who has expressed a desire to play on the West Coast. “I’ve seen him pitch quite a bit through the years. I have a lot of information on him, and he’s been on the world landscape, pitching in the World Baseball Classic.”
Fujikawa, 32, has been Japan’s top reliever for the past five or six years, going 3-3 with a 1.24 earned-run average and 41 saves in 56 games for the Hanshin Tigers last season. The right-hander mixes his fastball, which he throws in the 93-mph range, with a split-fingered fastball and slider.
Because Fujikawa, who pitched for Japan’s WBC team in 2006 and 2009, has played 10 years in Japan, major league teams do not have to go through the often expensive posting system to acquire him.
Dipoto said he spent 25 to 30 days a year scouting in Japan when he worked for the Arizona Diamondbacks from 2006 to 2011 and is very familiar with Fujikawa.
“I’ve seen him pitch against major league hitters on a world stage,” Dipoto said. “His talent is not a question.”
The Angels also added some bullpen depth Thursday by signing minor league free agent Mitch Stetter, a 31-year-old left-hander who appeared in 132 games for the Milwaukee Brewers from 2007 to 2011, going 8-2 with a 4.08 ERA.