Kyuji Fujikawa: Power Ranking Teams That Must Look to Add Japanese Closer

Richard LangfordCorrespondent INovember 12, 2012

TOKYO - MARCH 09:  Pitcher Kyuji Fujikawa #22 of Japan throws a pitch during the World Baseball Classic Pool A match between Japan and South Korea at Tokyo Dome on March 9, 2009 in Tokyo, Japan. South Korea defeated Japan, 1-0.  (Photo by Junko Kimura/Getty Images)
Junko Kimura/Getty Images

Teams in need of an immediate boost at the closer's position are in luck.

Closer Kyuji Fujikawa is set to bring his experienced and accomplished relieving skills to the major leagues from Japan (per CBS' R.J. White). 

Fujikawa, 32, has pitched for the Hanshin Tigers for 12 seasons. He has a long history of consistency and excellence, and rarely has his ERA been over two. He has also proven to be durable and has a career high of 46 saves.

This is a pro-ready closer that could turn around a team's bullpen with one move. Here are the three teams that must make a bid to land him. 

No. 1: Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox need pitching. It doesn't matter if that is a pitcher who will take the ball once every five games or one that will be ready nearly every night out of the bullpen.

Boston desperately needs some stability in its pen, and this fact does not appear to be lost on them. According to Ricky Doyle of, the Red Sox are interested in adding the closer and they need to make sure they make a big attempt to add him. 

Fujikawa may not be a long term answer, given his age, but Boston needs immediate results. The Red Sox face a relatively shallow pool of pitching talent on the free-agent market, and they need to be in on all quality options. 

No. 2: Los Angeles Angels 

If one were to make a bet on Fujikawa's future home, the Angels would be the way to go. As Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times alludes, the Angels have made no secret about their interest in the closer, and they feel there is a mutual interest. 

This move makes a ton of sense. The Angels need bullpen help, and if they could add some in the form of a closer, all the better. 

Ernesto Frieri led the Angels in saves last year with 23, but the 27-year-old is not the kind of pitcher a team can throw out with confidence in the ninth, and he blew three saves. 

Fujikawa would be an instant upgrade. He would help the Angels, a team that is definitely in a win-now mode, pen from top to bottom.

No. 3: Detroit Tigers

The Tigers made it to the World Series last year despite their bullpen, and, more specifically, despite their closer. 

Jose Valverde completely self-destructed in the postseason, which left the Tigers to try and patch things together at the end of games.

Well, Valverde is a free agent, and it seems highly unlikely he will be back with the Tigers, and even if he does return, there is nothing to suggest he should be trusted to handle the closer's job. This team is far too talented to go into next season with a question mark at closer.