A number of NPB teams could be interested in Kyuji Fujikawa, if he becomes available. Among teams that could be interested: Hanshin, Orix, Rakuten.
The Hanshin Tigers have been keeping an eye on him since he left for the Majors. They have Seung-Hwan Oh, so Fujikawa would be used in another role. Middle relief and set-up man are possibilities. The Tigers also feel he might be able start. They have three spots left on the seventy-man roster.
- Shinya Sakai: "We can't really do much unless they come to us. That's when things will start moving."
- Someone connected to the team: "He did a lot for us so we are interested in having him play for use again. There is a question about the kind of pitching he's done over the last couple years, but it's something we would like to think about."
- Someone connected to the team: "If he is open to playing in Japan, then I think we'll probably submit an offer."
The Orix Buffaloes have just one opening on their seventy-man roster. They will have to decide which is more important, a pitcher or position player.
- Ryuzo Setoyama: "We will be looking into him." ... "We do have one opening on the seventy-man roster. He is a good player, so we'll look into him, but I'm guessing it won't happen."
- Someone connected to the team: "We will think about it. Whether we actually pursue him is another story, but we will look into him."
- Someone connected to the team: "We only have one spot left on the seventy-man roster. We have to think about the balance between pitchers and position players."
The Rakuten Eagles need a little more information before they can make a decision. They already have Yuki Matsui so he would not be a priority. The Eagles have two spots available on their seventy-man roster.
- Hiroshi Abei: "We first need to see what kind of shape he's in." ... "We don't know anything about his contract and we don't know what kind of situation he's in. ... We'll take a thorough look and if there are no problems, we might see how he stacks up against other foreign candidates."
- Yozo Tachibana: "We have not had a chance to discuss this yet." ... "If he is planning to come back to Japan and is healthy, then it is something we need to talk about. I'll be talking to [Senichi] Hoshino tonight."
- Senichi Hoshino: "I probably shouldn't talk too much about this."
Source: Nikkan Sports 5/19/2015, Nikkan Sports 5/19/2015, Nikkan Sports 5/19/2015, Nikkan Sports 5/19/2015, Sponichi 5/19/2015, Sponichi 5/19/2015, Daily Sports 5/19/2015, Daily Sports 5/19/2015, Sanspo 5/19/2015
Sanspo has posted the following interaction with Fujikawa:
How are you feeling right now?
It's part of the game, so it can't be helped. When I was on the disabled list, they asked if I could pitch a little more in the minors, but I didn't want any part of that, so this doesn't come as a big shock to me.
You were taken off the forty-man roster. What are your plans now?
I value my time with my family. That's the most important thing right now. Whatever will make me and my family the happiest. Even in looking back at my career with Hanshin, I put in a lot of time and missed out on a lot. The rest is talking things over with my agent.
There's the waiver wire and the chance of getting traded, but that aside, if you were to become a free agent, would you consider returning to Japan?
I'm not really thinking about that right now. I need to draw a line somewhere. I take my work seriously, so I'm not about to hurry back to Japan just because things didn't work out in America. Of course, I can throw. I'm not worried about my elbow. But it's about demand. It means nothing if there's no interest.
The Tigers were looking into you last off-season. The owner spoke about you as a Tiger treasure.
I am grateful that they considered me a large part of their organization. Regardless of whether or not I play, I am grateful for that. The owner understood me and I am grateful for that.
He also said: "[Japan is] an option. It's something that could happen if there's interest, but if there's no interest, then I'll think about retirement too. If I drag this out too long, then I might miss my time to quit. Living my life is really important."
Source: Sanspo 5/19/2015, Sanspo 5/19/2015