Texas Rangers Sign Free Agent RHP Kohei Arihara


Texas Rangers Press Release



Arihara has pitched last six seasons for NPB’s Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters;

RHP Art Warren designated for assignment

Arlington, Texas— The Texas Rangers today announced that the club has signed free agent right-handed pitcher Kohei (CO-hey) Arihara (are-ree-HAR-uh) to a two-year contract through the 2022 season. Terms were not disclosed.

Arihara joins the Rangers after a six-year career with the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters of Nippon Professional Baseball’s (NPB) Pacific League (JPL). Per his request, the Fighters posted Arihara on November 26 with a deadline of 4:00 p.m. CT today to sign a Major League Baseball contract. With today’s signing, the Rangers will pay a posting fee to Hokkaido per the MLB-NPB agreement.

To make room for Arihara on Texas’ Major League roster, right-handed pitcher Art Warren has been designated for assignment. The Rangers’ roster remains at the 40-man limit.

“The addition of Kohei Arihara strengthens the depth in our starting rotation,” said Rangers President of Baseball Operations Jon Daniels. “He has had success in Japan over the last six years with a breakout season in 2019, and we believe there is more to come. The fact that he threw more than 130.0 innings in 2020 is a real plus considering the reduced workloads of our returning starters due to the 60-game season.

“Our pitching coaches are looking forward to working with Kohei as he prepares for the upcoming season. We’d like to recognize and thank the Fighters for the great work they’ve done developing Kohei on and off the field.”

Arihara issued the following statement following today’s signing:

“Hello everyone. I am extremely grateful for the Rangers who gave me an opportunity to play in Major League Baseball. I will continue to work hard in order for me to grow and succeed in this city. To lead into this, I will make sure to have a good offseason so that I can head into Spring Training in top condition. I am truly excited to be able to pitch in front of the Rangers fans at Globe Life Field, and I hope that you will all support me in my journey. Thank you.”

The 28-year-old Arihara was 8-9 with a 3.46 ERA in 20 starts for Hokkaido during the abbreviated 2020 NPB season (120 games). He led the Pacific League with three complete games and ranked among the JPL leaders in innings (2nd, 132.2), ERA (3rd), and wins (T7th). Arihara had the JPL’s second best strikeouts to walks ratio at 3.53 (30 BB/106 SO), and his 13 GIDP induced tied for the most in the league. He held opposing batters to a .250/.299/.366 stat line and went 4-2, 2.02 over his last seven starts beginning September 19.

Arihara is 60-50, 3.74 in 129 games/125 starts for Hokkaido from 2015-2020 with a .257/.305/.392 career opponents line. Over those six seasons, he ranks third among all NPB pitchers in wins and is seventh in innings pitched (836.0).   

He was the Pacific League’s Rookie of the Year in 2015, when he was 8-6 in 18 starts for the Fighters. In 2019 Arihara established a career high with 15 wins, tied for the most among all NPB pitchers, and compiled the second lowest ERA among NPB qualifiers at 2.46 in his 24 starts. He placed second in the JPL Best 9 voting for a pitcher.

Arihara pitched at Koryo High School in his native Hiroshima and at Tokyo’s Waseda University before being drafted by Hokkaido in 2015. He would become the eighth native of Japan to appear in a regular season game for the Rangers. Of that number, pitchers Yu Darvish (2012-17) and Yoshinori Tateyama (2011-12) also pitched for Hokkaido before joining the Rangers. 

Warren was received on a waiver claim from Seattle on October 21, 2020 after spending his entire six-year pro career in the Mariners organization.

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