The Dodgers main priority this offseason has been improving the bullpen without breaking the bank. Andrew Friedman recently noted that they plan to get creative with their additions.
Enter Yoshihisa Hirano, a Japanese right-hander with a nasty forkball.
Hirano has been the closer for the Orix Buffaloes of Nippon Professional Baseball, where he has racked up 156 career saves with a 3.10 ERA. In 2017, the 33-year old pitched to a 2.67 ERA and finished the season with 29 saves while appearing in 58 games. He features three pitches including a fastball, forkball, and slider. Steve Sypa of amazinavenue.com gave a brief scouting report on his pitches:
His fastball, which sits in the low-to-mid-90s, generally is a flat, straight pitch, though it sometimes has slight run to both sides. The pitch can be described as having late life, sneaking up on hitters in the zone, especially when he throwing with plane, down in the strike zone. His go-to out-pitch is his forkball, which is a bona fide plus pitch. The pitch sits in the mid-to-high 80s and features late dive. He is able to throw his forkball with the same arm action and speed as his fastball, allowing the pitch to fool hitters until the last moment, when it tumbles off the table.
Hirano will turn 34 in March, so he would likely be a short-term play. This suits the trend of short-term deals for relievers that the Dodgers have stuck to under Andrew Friedman. If the Dodgers do acquire him, he’d have a chance to earn a spot in the 2018 bullpen. The Dodgers will likely have competition in their pursuit, as other teams including the Cardinals are reportedly in pursuit according to MLB Trade Rumors.
Due to his experience, Hirano will not need to go through the posting process that many other Japanese players do. This means he also won’t be subject to the international bonus pool, so the Dodgers only having $300,000 available in their pool won’t hinder their pursuit. How much he may get from a Major League club is unclear, but he could be a low-risk potential high-reward signing for the right price.
[button color=”red” size=”big” alignment=”center” rel=”follow” openin=”newwindow” url=”https://www.dodgersnation.com/what-are-the-dodgers-bullpen-options-now-bc0887/2017/12/14/”]What Are The Dodgers Bullpen Options Now?[/button]