Earlier today, MLB Trade Rumors disseminated a report emanating from Yahoo! Sports’s Japanese outlet (link in Japanese) linking Orix Buffaloes pitcher Chihiro Kaneko to the San Diego Padres. Okay, we’re getting ahead of ourselves; the report was that he was visiting the US to watch the World Series and get a first-hand look at MLB atmosphere, where three teams were mentioned to have recently scouted the 30-year-old starting pitcher. Along with the Phillies and Red Sox, the Padres reportedly sent people to scout Kaneko last month.
Kaneko is one of the top pitchers in Nippon Professional Baseball, who happens to fall under the radar a bit when talking about future MLB targets. In 2014, he led the Pacific League in W, ERA, strikeouts, with a second-best (amongst qualified starters) K/BB ratio of 4.73. At 30 years of age, there’s less buzz about his potential posting than, say, 26-year-old Kenta Maeda.
As you can see, Kaneko has put up impressive numbers in Japan. Does a link with the Padres make sense? Sure, it could. AJ Preller was reportedly in Japan recently, which can help fan the flames on this very small fire…but I can’t find any news regarding Kaneko making a move to the US this offseason prior to this report. Kaneko just earned domestic free agency, and the Buffaloes would like to keep him. He’s also receiving interest from the Giants and Hawks, big clubs in Japan with deep pockets.
Pitching is undoubtedly the strength of the Padres, and one they might be willing to deal from to acquire help on offense. Could they can use the free agent market to acquire an arm to replace one that might net them a bat unavailable on the free agent market? Given the dearth of offensive talent in free agency this year, this is the kind of move it might be wise to make. If Kaneko were available for transfer to MLB, the Padres having interest would make a lot of sense . Given the information we have currently, this rumor is worth keeping an eye on…but needs to be taken with a grain of salt.
Here are some videos of Kaneko’s grips, pitches/deliveries. Have fun!
The Vocal Minority posts on Mondays, and sometimes on Thursdays. And wait, I posted something? Whoa. Chihiro Kaneko wears number 19, so I’m sold. Follow me on Twitter, jerk-o!