No team could reach an agreement with Japanese star pitcher Tomoyuki Sugano before the posting window expired on Thursday.
The best arm this MLB Hot Stove season is reigning NL Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer, but his reported asking price may have turned some prospective teams off. That means those organizations will likely pivot to pitchers on the lower tiers below Bauer. However, one name that picked up steam is Japanese superstar pitcher Tomoyuki Sugano of the Yomiuri Giants.
Sugano’s posting window opened on Dec. 8 with a plethora of teams interested in his services. But on Thursday, nearly a month later, Sugano didn’t reach an agreement with an MLB club and will return to the Nippon Professional Baseball League for the 2021 season, per ESPN’s Jeff Passan.
Japanese star Tomoyuki Sugano did not come to an agreement on a contract with a major league team before his posting window expired and will return to Nippon Professional Baseball for 2021, sources tell ESPN. He will be eligible to come to MLB as a free agent before 2022 season.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 7, 2021
The news came as a shock, as Sugano is a two-time Eiji Sawamura winner, which is the NPB’s best pitcher award. This past season, Sugano accumulated a 14-2 record while posting a 1.97 ERA, 0.88 WHIP and 131 strikeouts in 137.1 innings of work. That, and he pitched three complete games out of 20. That’s some good stuff, but no team appeared willing to up their offers.
Here are three teams that will easily regret not signing Sugano to a contract.
If this past season prove anything, it’s that the New York Yankees need a solid No. 2 pitcher behind ace Gerrit Cole. We saw how much that hurt the Yankees in the postseason, specifically in their Division Series against the rival Tampa Bay Rays.
This offseason, the Yankees are set to lose three pitchers to free agency. Masahiro Tanaka, whom New York won the competitive bidding war for back in 2014, is exploring his options on the market as well as entertaining the idea of returning the NPB. J.A. Happ has a snowball’s chance in hell of returning to the Yankees, especially with the vesting option controversy that took place this past season and his outburst over his use in Game 2 of the ALDS. James Paxton is coming off an injury-riddled campaign and it’s unknown if the Yankees would be willing to bring him back on another contract.
Tomoyuki Sugano would’ve been New York’s best chance of rostering a solid pitching rotation in 2021. They’d have Cole and Sugano at the top of the rotation, while rounding it out with Luis Severino, Deivi Garcia and Jordan Montgomery. Oh well, they can always try to sign Sugano next year.