Yomiuri Giants right-hander must sign by Jan. 7, Red Sox still in the mix
For those who have been following the news regarding Nippon Professional Baseball workhorse Tomoyuki Sugano‘s trip through the posting process since early December, the conclusion as to where he will call his next home is coming in the following days. The Red Sox have been tied to the righty since being posted as a free agent by the Yomiuri Giants and several teams have shown interest.
Jon Morosi tweeted that three teams, in particular, are “among the candidates” to land Sugano, none of the teams mentioned were Boston. That is not to say that the Red Sox are not in the mix to sign him to a deal, as we recently saw Boston pursue other international players that had been posted, ultimately falling short on both.
Kohei Arihara and Ha-Seong Kim were both in the mix to be signed by the Red Sox but both chose different teams for different reasons. Sugano is the last domino on the international market to sign before many around the league pivot back to prioritizing proven MLB talent with a free agent market that still has plenty of proven assets looking for new homes.
The Blue Jays and Mets have been very active on the free-agent market to this point in the offseason, being tied to several names, albeit executing little moves thus far. Boston has been known to be a front runner for Sugano’s services, so the franchise’s name not appearing in the top three of finalists to sign the pitcher comes as a bit of a surprise.
The Red Sox could now theoretically be considered a dark-horse candidate to sign the right-hander but that is not to say that it would come as a surprise if the two parties did reach an agreement.
According to Japanese news outlet Hochi Sports, Sugano landed in the United States on Friday to discuss the final options he has for teams interested in his talents with his agent. The next four days will at least give Boston fans something to keep an eye on in what has been an otherwise slow-moving offseason. The Red Sox have been known to be in the mix for several second-tier starting pitchers, shying away from players who come with high paying contract demands and draft pick losses.
Several in the industry consider Sugano to fit the bill of a second-tier pitcher at this point in his career, although the 31-year-old most recently pitched brilliantly in 20 games for the Yomiuri Giants in 2020. He posted a 14-2 record with a 1.97 ERA and an impressive 0.888 WHIP.
Teams in the mix are looking to sign the right-hander with hopes that he can replicate the numbers he has been able to post over the course of his NBP career and, more importantly, avoid losing a draft pick for signing a high-quality pitcher.
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The Red Sox have significant needs to address in regards to its starting rotation and Sugano would be a great addition to aid the team in being competitive in the upcoming 2021 campaign. At present, the team is slated to start the season with Nathan Eovaldi, Eduardo Rodriguez, Tanner Houck, Matt Andriese, and Nick Pivetta in the starting five. Boston’s team ERA for pitchers sat at 5.58 last season. Suffice to say, adjustments must be made.
At some point next season, Chris Sale will make his return after undergoing Tommy John Surgery in March of 2020 which will give Boston’s rotation a much-needed boost if all goes according to plan. The team has the financial flexibility to make at least one splash for the greater good of the rotation and while CBO Chaim Bloom has taken his time in addressing this need, a majority of MLB teams have taken the same route in playing the waiting game.
The countdown to seeing where Sugano lands in the coming days is officially in full effect, and his final decision could come before his January 7th posting deadline. While the Red Sox are not officially listed as a finalist, Morosi’s statement about the top three teams also included stated that those three teams were “among the candidates”. There is still a good shot that Boston could ultimately land the productive starting pitcher to help its ailing pitching core for the better of the franchise.