With Friday’s news of Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball finalizing details of a new posting agreement for Japanese players to come to the United States, the big news was two-way star Shohei Ohtani getting posted this December. But he’s not alone, soon to be joined by veteran right-handed pitcher Kazuhisa Makita.
Makita will be posted by the Seibu Lions on or before Dec. 31, and once posted, MLB teams will have 30 days to work out a contract agreement with the submarine pitcher. Ohtani was officially posted on Friday and will have until Dec. 22 to sign.
Here is what we know about Makita.
He is a submarine pitcher
Makita drops down from the right side, with his arm nearing scraping the pitching mound as he delivers the ball to home plate -- shades of former Royals closer Dan Quisenberry or more recently, Athletics reliever Chad Bradford.
Smoke and mirrors
Unlike Ohtani, who can throw a baseball 100 mph, Makita is in the low 80s with his fastball. Instead, he uses movement and deception to get hitters out. From his MLB.com scouting report:
It’s no surprise Makita doesn’t rack up the strikeouts. Instead, he uses a combination of deception and pitchability to get outs. His fastball hovers around 80 mph and tops out around 85, according to reports, so Makita has to rely heavily on his unusual arm angle as well as his sinker, slider and curve.
Veteran experience in both starting and relief
Makita, at 33, has an extensive resume, pitching for Japan in the World Baseball Classic in both 2013 and 2017. He started 110 games for the Seibu Lions from 2011-15, posting a 3.00 ERA in his first five seasons in the NPB.
In the last two seasons, Makita pitched exclusively in relief, posting a 1.91 ERA in 108 games, with 78 strikeouts and 21 walks in 141 1⁄3 innings. He has kept the ball in the ballpark during his career in the NPB, allowing a home run every 83.2 plate appearances, including just seven home runs in 2016-17 combined.
A major league deal
Ohtani, at 23 years old, is subject to international bonus pool limits, which severely limit his initial earning potential. Ohtani will only be able to sign a minor league contract with his new team with a signing bonus of likely no more than $3.5 million or so, depending on the team.
Makita, however, is 33, and with the required six or more years of experience (he has seven years in the NPB), Makita qualifies as a foreign professional and is more of a true free agent, able to sign a major league contract. It is unknown what the posting fee will be, but with Ohtani and Makita grandfathered in to the old posting system between MLB and NPB, the most Seibu can receive is $20 million for Makita’s services.