Risky Mets free agent signing of Shintaro Fujinami remains a work in progress

Shintaro Fujinami is getting hammered in Triple-A and failing to find the strike zone.
New York Mets Workout
New York Mets Workout / Rich Storry/GettyImages

The beauty of bringing Shintaro Fujinami to the New York Mets this offseason was his available minor league options. If he didn’t have these available, it would have been a potential disaster for the team.

Applauded by fans beyond just the ability to send him to the minor leagues, it was a peculiar situation most of us aren’t used to seeing. Fujinami was 7-8 last season with a 7.18 ERA. Outside of a backyard Wiffle Ball league, those numbers don’t measure up strongly.

It was Fujinami's potential fans leaned into with a smile. The hard-throwing veteran from Japan might’ve gone up in smoke in year one in MLB, however, there was much thought the Mets could fix him. So far, it looks like we continue to be in buffering mode.

The free agent signing of Shintaro Fujinami is off to a slow and wildly inefficient start

Fujinami has made 8 appearances for Syracuse and completed only 5.2 innings. The 15.88 ERA is what jumps out and you can assume what the cause is. Fujinami has walked 13 batters already this season versus just 7 strikeouts. One can jokingly question if the righty is actually left-handed.

Fujinami is now the only relief pitcher on the 40-man roster to not see big league action. He has been rightfully passed over for several guys who didn’t even begin the year on the 40-man roster. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case of one bad game.

Pitching on Sunday in game two of a doubleheader, Fujinami struggled yet again. Entering in the sixth, he gave up a single and two walks and another single to plate two runs. He retired only one batter, the second he faced, in his appearance. The team called upon Eric Orze for a 5-out save to get them out of the 7-inning game with a victory.

Fujinami wasn’t anything close to this bad last year. The 5.1 per 9 walk rate wasn’t good nor was it reaching the levels it has with Syracuse this season. He added more than a strikeout per inning as well, helping the case for the Mets to sign in the offseason for $3.35 million.

It’s early and yet it’s not. Fujinami’s command overseas wasn’t always great either. This year it’s at a whole different level of awful. Sure, it’s not hurting the big league at all, but one has to wonder if the money they spent on him could’ve been better utilized elsewhere. Even though we view J.D. Martinez as the guy whose salary is costing them more in the luxury tax penalties, remove Fujinami and the Mets suddenly have a little more wiggle room when the trade deadline approaches.

The road for Fujinami to return to the majors is a long one right now. After success in Japan, one has to wonder what more the Mets can do to change the 30-year-old for the better?