Star Japanese starting pitcher Tomoyuki Sugano has arrived in the United States and is sifting through his final offers, which include proposals from the New York Mets, San Francisco Giants, and Toronto Blue Jays, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi.
The 31-year-old righty has been one of the premier pitchers in Japan, pitching for the Yomiuri Giants of the Nippon Professional Baseball Organization for the last eight seasons. In 196 career games, he is 101-49 with a 2.34 ERA, a 1.032 WHIP, and a 4.58 strikeouts-to-walk ratio while winning the Sawamura Award — Japan’s version of the Cy Young Award — twice.
He put together one of his strongest campaigns last season after dealing with some back issues the year prior, going 14-2 with a 1.97 ERA, a 0.888 WHIP, and 131 strikeouts in 137 innings pitched.
The general consensus is that Sugano is a mid-rotation piece with a maximum ceiling as a No. 2 starter, which is exactly what the Mets need — with either projection.
Should they believe Sugano is a No. 2 arm, he’ll slot in just behind Jacob deGrom for a drastically cheaper price than that of Trevor Bauer’s. The 2020 NL Cy Young Award winner could be looking for well over $30 million per season in a new deal where he’d assume the same responsibility behind deGrom in Queens.
Compared to Bauer, Sugano would provide much more financial flexibility to sign another mid-rotation arm to round out the pitching staff alongside deGrom, Marcus Stroman, David Peterson, and the returning Noah Syndergaard, who is expected to fully complete his rehab from Tommy John surgery in June or July. It would also leave the Mets with more than enough funds to remain one of the big fish in the pursuit of star free-agent center fielder, George Springer.
Sugano was posted by Yomiuri on Dec. 7, giving interested MLB teams until Jan. 7 to sign him, as per an agreement between the two leagues. If he is not signed within the one-month window, he must return to Japan to play in 2021.