Yusei Kikuchi's dreadful month of June is hurting his upcoming free agent value

If Kikuchi wants a shot at maintaining premium value, he'll need to turn the tide now
Toronto Blue Jays v Cleveland Guardians
Toronto Blue Jays v Cleveland Guardians / Nick Cammett/GettyImages

Yusei Kikuchi has seen better days, and it'll be crucial to improve if he wants to avoid a double whammy of misfortune. For one, it won't help the stumbling Toronto Blue Jays in their pursuit of a meaningful farm boost should they pivot toward a retool.

Since his June 1 start against the Pirates, three of his five starts in that span have looked quite rough, with him allowing four-plus runs and not making it to six complete frames. It's also important to note while he did have a solid game against the Brewers, he walked four batters in a game where he struggled to find his command (which still has been at an all-time best for Kikuchi).

The base numbers reflect the struggles, given his ERA ballooning from 3.25 to 4.00 in the aforementioned span, and a four-homer night surrendered to the Red Sox 10 days prior.

It appears his wider arsenal with the newly refined changeup is starting to become a little difficult to juggle as hitters adapt to his variety and zone-pounding style, and he will need to find ways to stop being over-conservative on his command to curb this recent trend, without reverting to his pre-2023 struggles.

It's nice to see his walk rate be in the 91st percentile this season, but a 16th percentile hard hit rate shows opponents aren't struggling just enough for this change to be a shoe-in going forward.

Assuming the Blue Jays look to shift their focus beyond 2024, it likely means finding a suitor for the 33-year old. He's in the final year of his three year deal he signed prior to the 2022 campaign, and will easily be of value to any staff in the league regardless of what the trends suggest.

But the price point will be up in the air if he doesn't change this within the next 30 days, and it's not something Toronto is looking forward to if they can't even dream of the idea of nabbing a top 10 prospect for him anywhere.

As for Kikuchi, this can hurt him a lot as an impending free agent. At his age, this could be his last chance at a multi-year payday that comes anywhere near nine figures. While the chances of that are already slim at best, it doesn't help if the homestretch of his walk year allows interested clubs to deem him a risk.

While the latter concern may not have a direct impact on the Blue Jays, it would be a shame to see a man who overcame the lowest of the lows faced in 2022 have the ultimate comeback story be tainted by a mid-summer meltdown.

Many are rooting for Kikuchi, as without him the club would've probably seen a more grim outcome post-2022. He's a great pitcher who deserves to get paid so long as he continues to build his case.