According to MLB insider, SF Giants "might be emerging as the favorite" for NPB pitcher

Japan v Mexico - Game 1
Japan v Mexico - Game 1 / Kiyoshi Ota/GettyImages

One way or another, star NPB hurler Shōta Imanaga will make a decision as to where he will sign as his posting window runs through January 11. The latest rumor has the SF Giants emerging as the favorite for the veteran pitcher, per Mark Feinsand of MLB.Com.

According to MLB insider, SF Giants "might be emerging as the favorite" for NPB pitcher

First off, we understand there is some confusion here. A recent report from Jim Bowden of The Athletic suggested that the Giants were not prioritizing Imanaga following the Robbie Ray trade. This point was further reinforced when Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area speculated that the Giants may no longer be in the market for a frontline starter after speaking with Farhan Zaidi.

No one truly knows how this market will play out. That said, Pavlovic generally has a good pulse on the organization, so his speculation has some substance to it. On the other hand, Bowden is just not the most reliable source. It is hard to know definitively one way or the other how the Giants are operating behind the scenes because very few people are privy to that information.

That said, Feinsand is a more reliable source than others, so his word carries weight. He says the Giants are considered the favorites based on a source who says that the organization does not want to miss out on a top free agent after failing to sign Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto. That may not be the right motivation to sign a player, but that is the general belief right now.

Along with San Francisco, Feinsand lists the Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, and Los Angeles Angels as the other three finalists. The Red Sox and Cubs are not operating like teams who are shopping at that level of the market, but the Angels have a need and could be in play for Imanaga.

The left-handed hurler is coming off of an excellent 2023 campaign in which he posted a 2.66 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 10.6 K/9, and a 7.83 SO/W ratio in 24 starts for the Yokohama Bay Stars. The team that eventually signs Imanaga will owe the Bay Stars a posting fee. He is expected to receive a deal in the neighborhood of $100 million.