Right-handed pitcher Tomoyuki Sugano, who has spent his entire professional career with the Yomiuri Giants of Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball league, has decided to remain in Japan for the 2021 season, reports Jeff Passan of ESPN. Per the report, he did not come to an agreement with an MLB team before the posting window expired on Thursday. The Blue Jays, Padres, San Francisco Giants and Red Sox were among the teams linked to Sugano earlier in the offseason.
Sugano will now be eligible to come to Major League Baseball next offseason without being attached to a posting fee.
Sugano, 31, spent eight seasons with the Giants, appearing in nearly 200 games and tallying a 2.34 ERA and 4.59 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Additionally, he's a two-time Sawamura Award winner (essentially Japan's version of the Cy Young), and a one-time winner of the league MVP Award. As Mike Axisa noted in December, Sugano scuffled in 2019 because of hip and back discomfort. He returned to form in 2020, however, delivering a 1.97 ERA and 5.24 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 137 innings.
Here's a scouting report courtesy of Baseball America:
(His) slider is perhaps the best in Japan and he can control it to both sides of the plate. It's a devastating offering when he buries it inside against lefthanded hitters. Sugano's velocity was slightly up in 2020 and he also induced more swinging strikes. He upped his splitter usage and also threw a cutter, curveball and shuuto. His control was as strong as ever.
Though we didn't rank Sugano in our free agent top 60 (we exclude international free agents), he would've ranked fairly high on the list had he come over this year. Next offseason, Sugano is bound to be considered one of the handful of best starters on the market, provided he decides to make the leap.
New Texas Rangers right-hander Kohei Arihara came to MLB via NPB earlier this offseason. Ha-Seong Kim, a South Korean shortstop, is the other international free-agent of note to sign recently. Kim joined the San Diego Padres on a four-year deal worth nearly $30 million.