The Texas Rangers continue their pursuit of pitching depth this off-season by turning to a familiar source.
Yu Darvish worked out pretty splendidly for the Texas Rangers upon his arrival in Arlington in 2012 from Nippon Professional Baseball’s (NPB) Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters in Japan.
Now, it appears the team is looking to draw from that same talent well again.
According to MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand, the Texas Rangers are reportedly in the mix for another Ham Fighters right-hander.
This time, it’s 28-year-old Kohei Arihara.
The Texas Rangers have had prior success drawing pitching from international markets.
Arihara is one of the premier international pitching talents available on the market this off-season.
He’s coming off a 2020 campaign in which he tossed 132.2 innings over 20 games pitched, compiling a 3.46 ERA and 1.17 WHIP for the Ham Fighters.
At just 28-years-old, the Japanese right-hander is likely entering his prime as he pursues a career in MLB, a factor that will likely drive up his contract price (this after a prospective team pays a mandated posting fee to Hokkaido Nippon just to negotiate terms).
To get an idea of the potential Arihara has to be successful upon his arrival to the United States, here’s a brief look at a scouting report that was put together by Sports Info Solutions:
"“Arihara demonstrates strong command of his three best pitches–an above average four seamer, a plus change, and a slider that flashes plus.”"
Command of three pitches, including two breaking balls in addition to a fastball? Sign us up, please.
Arihara has drawn comparisons to mid-rotation hurlers such as the Chicago Cubs’ Kyle Hendricks and the Minnesota Twins’ Kenta Maeda.
While those names may not strike Rangers fans as ace-caliber, elite talents, having quality innings eaters like Hendricks and Maeda can be plenty valuable to an organization.
Did we mention that Hendricks has an ERA title to his name, and Maeda posted a career-best 2.70 ERA in 2020?
Fans would surely be on-board with one of those possible outcomes.
Arihara would therefore make a great deal of sense for the Texas Rangers should they decide to seriously pursue him.
Texas can afford to wait out Arihara’s development as an MLB pitcher should he need a period of transition coming over from Japan, which would seem likely since he wasn’t exactly top-notch over there.
Ideally, the 28-year-old righty would come into his own just as the Rangers (hopefully) begin to turn the tide on their rebuild in a couple of years, possibly equipping Texas with a potential top of the rotation option just in time for a window of contention.
With having previous success in nabbing players from NPB, there’s no reason why the Texas Rangers shouldn’t attempt to do the same here with Kohei Arihara.