The Orioles made a move tonight aimed at improving their bullpen.
The team announce that it has acquired right-hander Shintaro Fujinami from the Athletics for minor league pitcher Easton Lucas.
Triple-A Norfolk infielder Josh Lester was designated for assignment to create room for Fujinami on the 40-man roster.
Fujinami, a 29-year-old native of Sakai, Japan, made 34 appearances in his first major league season and posted an 8.57 ERA and 1.662 WHIP in 49 1/3 innings. He walked 30 batters and struck out 51.
Seven of those outings were starts, but the Orioles plan on using him in a relief role.
Since leaving the rotation in late April, Fujinami has registered a 3.26 ERA over 19 1/3 innings beginning on June 1, with 17 hits allowed, six walks, 20 strikeouts and two home runs in 17 games. He made three starts in that period, none of them lasting longer than one inning.
The ERA has been on a steady decline, with Fujinami allowing only two runs in his last nine games totaling 11 innings.
The Athletics signed Fujinami in January to a one year, $3.25 million contract, a month after he was posted by the Hanshin Tigers of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball. He was a three-time All-Star from 2013-15, registering a 3.41 ERA and 1.353 WHIP in 10 seasons and averaging 9.2 strikeouts per nine innings.
The Athletic ranked Fujinami 50th in its top 50 free agent list over the winter.
His four-seam fastball sits in the high 90s and can touch triple digits, and he also throws a splitter as his primary secondary pitch, along with a cutter, slider, sinker and curveball.
Lucas, 26, was acquired from the Marlins in December 2019 for infielder Jonathan Villar. The left-hander didn’t make any top prospect lists, but he allowed three runs with 24 strikeouts in 17 innings with Double-A Bowie this season.
With Triple-A Norfolk, Lucas registered a 4.26 ERA and 1.342 WHIP in nine games totaling 12 2/3 innings.
Lester went 4-for-22 with the Orioles after an impressive spring training. He was batting .272 with an .827 OPS, 12 doubles, two triples, 15 home runs and 62 RBIs with Norfolk.
The trade deadline is Aug. 1 and the Orioles are known to be checking the starter and reliever markets.
Keegan Akin, Austin Voth, Mychal Givens and Dillon Tate remain on the injured list.