4) Kohei Arihara – Right-Handed Pitcher, Japan
Fellow Rising Apple contributor William Wetzel also did a phenomenal job profiling Japanese right-hander Kohei Arihara as a potential option for the Mets starting rotation next season. The 28-year old pitcher was posted by his Nippon Professional Baseball team, the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters on November 26th for Major League Baseball teams. Teams around the league currently have until December 26th to negotiate a contract with Arihara, who is also part of the posting process, which makes him the potential favorite to find a home first out of all the players currently on this list.
Arihara would certainly fill a hole in the Mets rotation this offseason as the organization is potentially looking to sign two starting pitchers this winter. Arihara doesn’t fit the flamethrowing mold that exists around Jacob deGrom or Noah Syndergaard, but he has a decent four-seam fastball and relies on a solid offspeed repertoire that keeps hitters off-balance.
In 2020, Ariahara had posted a 3.46 ERA to go along with a 1.168 WHIP, and 106/30 K/BB ratio in 132.2 innings for the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters. He also was a finalist for the Japanese version of the Cy Young Award called the Eiji Sawamura Award back in 2019 when he had posted a 2.46 ERA and ridiculous WHIP of 0.919 over 164.1 innings pitched.
I believe Ariahara would be a great fit for the Mets rotation in 2021, however, with another star Japanese starting pitcher recently being posted, I knocked Ariahara down few spots on my list. However, I don’t believe there will be a shortage of suitors for Ariahara this offseason as there aren’t very many high-end starting pitching options available. When all is said and done I could see Ariahara commanding a two or three-year deal around $8-$10 million a season.