The Shōta Imanaga market will come to a conclusion soon as his posting window runs through January 11, 2024. However, the SF Giants might not be making him a priority at this point in time according to Jim Bowden of The Athletic.
SF Giants "not focused" on NPB star hurler following Robbie Ray trade
On Friday, Bowden listed the Giants, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, and Los Angeles Angels as finalists for Imanaga. However, that was not long before the Giants swung a surprise trade to acquire former Cy Young winner Robbie Ray.
Bowden did say that the Giants remain involved in a wide range of free-agent targets. He did not clarify whether that included position players or starting pitchers, but it is fair to say that they are casting a wide net. I will add the caveat that Bowden might not be the most reliable MLB insider, but he is well-connected throughout baseball.
Even if the Giants are no longer in the market for Imanaga, it is odd to see both the Cubs and the Red Sox reportedly in the mix. The Cubs made a big splash earlier in the offseason by hiring Craig Counsell on a five-year, $40 million pact. That deal set a new ceiling for what managers can earn.
Since then, they have been mostly silent. Perhaps, the most notable move they have made is adding catcher Brian Serven on a waiver claim from the Colorado Rockies. They could be in the mix for Imanaga, but they have not operated like a team that plans to spend aggressively this offseason.
On the other hand, the Red Sox remain motivated to slash costs following the Chris Sale trade. They are fielding calls on Masataka Yoshida and Kenley Jansen according to Jen McCaffrey and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. Similar to the Cubs, they could be in the market for Imanaga, but they are not operating like a team that could be. That said, the Angels could be in the mix given the need to add something new following Shohei Ohtani's departure.
The Giants' waning interest in Imanaga is not terribly surprising. They still need rotation help, but could be out on a frontline starter. That is a risk given that there is very little track record behind Logan Webb and Ross Stripling. Both Ray and Alex Cobb will begin the season on the injured list, so the Giants have a need, but they could rely on a handful of young pitchers to bridge the gap.
There is a chance that they could still search the middle of the market for rotation help. For example, Marcus Stroman would make sense given the need.
Imanaga is coming off of a solid 2023 campaign with the Yokohama Bay Stars where he tallied a 2.66 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 10.6 K/9, and a 7.83 SO/W ratio across 24 starts. The left-handed pitcher is expected to score a deal in the neighborhood of $100 million.