The Dodgers are reportedly interested in Japanese relief pitcher Yoshihisa Hirano, per Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports.
Hirano had a 2.67 ERA and 29 saves in 58 games for the Orix Buffaloes in the Japanese Pacific League in 2017, with 47 strikeouts and 16 walks in 57 innings. He has a 3.10 ERA in 11 seasons with Orix, including the last eight years in relief after starting 68 of his 73 games in his first three seasons.
The right-hander has 156 career saves, including 143 over the last five seasons.
Hirano is an international free agent, meaning there is no posting fee required to sign him. He turns 34 in March, and with his combined age and experience is not subject to international bonus pool limits.
"Considering my age, I figured this would be my last chance to move (to the majors),” Hirano told Kyodo News in November. “I have worries but my desire to try my luck over there is greater.”.
His agent John Boggs said Monday at the winter meetings in Orlando that multiple teams were interested in Hirano, per Jim Allen of Kyodo News, and that his market was “heating up.”
Hirano this week reportedly had a two-year offer on the table from an unnamed MLB club per both Sponichi News and Yahoo Japan, with the Cubs, Tigers and Red Sox also interested.
It appears Hirano’s forkball is his best pitch, and his fastball is in the low- to mid-90s.
“Primarily a two pitch reliever with an above-average fastball and some feel with a plus forkball who keeps the ball on the ground and will generate some swing and miss,” Dave DeFreitas wrote of Hirano at 2080 Baseball. “He has some funk and effort to the arm action and delivery that helps to play up the stuff.”
Hirano pitched for Japan in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, striking out seven with one walk in his 5⅓ innings, posting a 3.38 ERA in six relief appearances. The right-hander pitched at Dodger Stadium against the United States in the semifinal round on March 21. Hirano faced only one batter in that game, striking out Nolan Arenado in the ninth inning.