SEATTLE — The Seattle Mariners signed Japanese left-handed pitcher Yusei Kikuchi to a four-year deal just ahead of the deadline for him to sign with a major league club or be forced to return to Japan for another season.

Seattle made the signing official Wednesday after word first surfaced of an agreement late on New Year’s Eve. Kikuchi was one of the few starter options remaining on the market and he will be joining a team with a long history of success with Japanese players.

Kikuchi was posted by the Seibu Lions of Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan in early December. Under new posting rules, he had until Wednesday afternoon Seattle time to sign with a major league team or be forced to return to Japan for the 2019 season.

Kikuchi was 14-4 with a 3.08 ERA for Seibu last season. He was 16-6 with a 1.97 ERA a year earlier.

YANKEES: The Yankees obtained a low-cost infield replacement, agreeing to a one-year contract with shortstop Troy Tulowitzki for the major league minimum $555,000, a person familiar with the negotiations told The AP.

Tulowitzki idolized retired Yankees captain Derek Jeter and has worn No. 2 in his honor. A five-time All-Star who turned 34 in October, Tulowitzki has not played in the major leagues since July 2017 and was released by the Blue Jays last month. He was limited to 66 games in 2017 because of hamstring and right ankle injuries. The ankle required surgery last spring and he missed the entire season.

TWINS: Minnesota and veteran slugger Nelson Cruz agreed to a one-year contract with an option for the 2020 season, giving Minnesota a boost at designated hitter.

CUBS: The Chicago Cubs  hired former All-Star infielder Mark Loretta as their bench coach and pitcher Bob Tewksbury as mental skills coordinator.

Loretta replaces Brandon Hyde, who left to manage the Baltimore Orioles, after spending the past nine seasons in San Diego’s front office. Loretta batted .295 over 15 seasons with Milwaukee, Houston, San Diego, Boston and the Los Angeles Dodgers. He was an All-Star with the Padres in 2004 and Red Sox in 2006.

Tewksbury played for six teams over 13 years from 1986-98, including parts of two seasons with the Cubs. He was an All-Star with St. Louis in 1992.

Tewksbury earned a Master’s of Education in Sport Psychology and Counseling from Boston University in 2004. He has spent 15 years working in mental skills, the past two with San Francisco.