Orioles trade deadline bust signs one-year deal with Mets

One of the Orioles trade pickups from last season has a new home in the NL East

Sep 6, 2023; Anaheim, California, USA; Baltimore Orioles relief pitcher Shintaro Fujinami (14) delivers a pitch during a game against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium
Sep 6, 2023; Anaheim, California, USA; Baltimore Orioles relief pitcher Shintaro Fujinami (14) delivers a pitch during a game against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium / Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports
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With this news, every Orioles player who hit free agency in the offseason has signed elsewhere. Jon Heyman reported on Friday afternoon that pitcher Shintaro Fujinami agreed to a one-year contract with the New York Mets worth $3.35 million.

Former Orioles pitcher Shintaro Fujinami is off to the Mets on a one-year contract

Fujinami is expected to be a relief pitcher with the Mets, where he was for all but seven games last season. He signed with the Oakland Athletics from Japan and was initially a starter, but things went poorly. In his first four starts, he allowed a whopping 24 runs in only 15 innings before going to the bullpen. The three starts he made after that were situations where he pitched as an opener.

While he was able to play decent enough out of the bullpen to make his stats look a touch better, he still was overall poor for the Athletics. A few weeks before the trade deadline, the Orioles traded Easton Lucas to the A's for Fujinami, with the team believing they could help fix his poor command.

They weren't quite able to do that. Fujinami was a Jekyll and Hyde pitcher for the Orioles, as there were nights that he couldn't be stopped and there were nights where he had no clue where his pitches were going and everything would cave in. His maddening inconsistency cost him a spot on the playoff roster, though he probably wouldn't have made a difference against the Rangers.

Overall, in 30 appearances with the Orioles, everyone was left disappointed in the results. He had a 4.85 ERA, 4.13 FIP and 1.213 WHIP, averaging a strong 9.7 strikeouts per nine but an equally frustrating 4.6 walks per nine, at one point picking up two saves in 29 2/3 innings pitched.

Fujinami somehow ended the season as a positive WAR player, ending the year with 0.2 fWAR. That can probably be attributed to his deadly fastball, as he ranked in the 97th percentile in fastball velocity and 78th percentile in whiff percentage.

The command continues to be his undoing, as he subsequently ranked in the 6th percentile in walk percentage, 4th percentile in chase percentage and 9th percentile in pitching run value among others. Simply put, Fujinami was too volatile to be a good pitcher last year.

If the Mets can complete the tall task of straightening out Fujinami's command, he'll be a deadly weapon in their bullpen this season alongside another former Oriole in Jorge López. If they can't fix it, Fujinami will likely more often than not be a liability when he takes the mound.

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