A potential arm to provide depth for the New York Mets’ starting rotation may come from the international pool rather than the domestic free-agency or trade market.
A non-Mets MLB executive told Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported on Tuesday that the Mets have “as good a chance as anyone,” to sign Japanse star Tomoyuki Sugano.
The 31-year-old right-hander has been a staple for the Yomiuri Giants for nearly a decade, winning the Sawamura Award — Japan’s version of the Cy Young Award — twice. In 196 appearances in the Nippon Professional Baseball Organization (NPB), he went 101-49 with a 2.34 ERA, a 1.032 WHIP, and a 4.58 strikeouts-to-walk ratio.
Amongst his most notable starts against MLB talent, which came opposite Team USA in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, Sugano went six innings, allowing no runs on three hits with six strikeouts.
Looking to make the jump to the majors, the Giants posted him on Dec. 7 and interested MLB teams have until Jan. 7 to sign him.
Sugano has exhibited a pitching arsenal that features a low-90’s fastball, an effective slider, and pinpoint command, but the book is still out on where he would perform within an MLB rotation. Some believe he could be a top-end arm while others believe he would be better suited for a No. 3 or 4 spot.
For the Mets, Sugano would be a likely candidate for that mid-rotation responsibility behind Jacob deGrom and Marcus Stroman.
New York has been linked to 2020 NL Cy Young Award winner Trevor Bauer, who would immediately slot behind deGrom but command a contract well over $20 million. Jake Odorizzi and Masahiro Tanaka have also been mentioned as potential options to bolster the rest of the rotation. Early expectations are that Sugano would see a contract comparable to Tanaka or Odorizzi’s should he make the jump to the majors.