Yomiuri Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano will be posted to all MLB clubs within the next two weeks, according to a report by Jon Morosi. The SF Giants are an obvious potential fit.
After being swept by the SoftBank Hawks in the Japan Series, the Yomiuri Giants of Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) appear ready to say goodbye to their best starting pitcher. In a report by Jon Morosi of MLB Network, Yomiuri will be posting starting pitcher Tomoyuki Sugano within the next couple of weeks.
The news comes just days after a Joel Sherman report asserted that MLB teams expected Sugano to be posted this offseason. Given the SF Giants obvious needs in the starting rotation, they naturally become one of the most obvious destinations.
Once Sugano is posted, MLB teams will have 30 days to negotiate a contract with him. If he comes to an agreement, the signing team will have to pay Yomiuri a “posting fee” equivalent to a percentage of the guarantees in his contract. Given the suppressed nature of this year’s free-agent market though, it’s hard to imagine that number reaching anything massive by MLB standards.
Considered the best pitcher in Japan, Sugano has won the league’s Most Valuable Player and two Sawamura Awards (the NPB’s equivalent of the Cy Young) over his eight-year career. In 2020, Sugano’s recorded an elite 2.04 ERA across 132.1 innings (19 starts) with 126 strikeouts, just 25 walks, and 96 hits. Over his career, Sugano maintains a career 2.34 ERA over 1357 innings (196 games) with 1211 strikeouts, 265 walks, and 1144 hits.
Sugano’s prolonged dominance rests on his plus-plus command and ability to manipulate all of his pitches. His fastball sits in the low-90s, but plays off his ability to locate it on the corners and tunnel it with his other pitches. If you count every variation in his pitch mix, Sugano has more than five (possibly seven) pitches. However, at its core, he compliments his fastball with a plus slider and splitfinger.
At 31, Sugano is far from a projection signing and probably lacks the upside of some other arms available, but the Giants rotation already has a number of high volatility arms. For an organization that sees its window opening soon, Sugano will not command a contract that would hamstring a payroll far into the future and has the track record to justify a contract locking him up past 2022.
Yomiuri Giants righthanded pitcher Tomoyuki Sugano has easily been one of the best pitchers in Japan since debuting in 2013. The 31-year old can offer an SF Giants team desperate for trustworthy starting pitchers a strong mid-rotation arm. There are always risks when international players transition to MLB, but Sugano appears poised to become, at the minimum, a sturdy innings eater.