Right-handed Tomoyuki Sugano, a two-time Sawamura Award winner (roughly Japan’s version of Cy Young), has signed up for his contract for the 2022 season with the Yomiuri Giants of the Nippon Professional Baseball League. according to Yahoo! Japan.
Sugano was “dispatched” to Major League Baseball teams by Yomiuri in the final off-season. Various clubs showed interest in him, including the Boston Red Sox, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, and Toronto Blue Jays. But Sugano’s 30-day posting window came and went without him being able to come to an agreement with a team. He then returned to Yomiuri under a multi-year contract that provides for opt-outs every winter if he wants to pursue a job in the majors.
Sugano’s decision to stay in Japan was facilitated by recent developments in MLB. The MLB owners recently issued a lockout, the league’s first work stoppage since 1994-95. Teams can’t sign players under lockout, which leaves Sugano out in the rain. Earlier this week, NPB colleague Masahiro Tanaka opted for his own contract; Speculation in the industry made Tanaka attempt to return to the majors this winter.
Sugano, 32, has a career of 2.41 ERA and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 4.53 for portions of nine NPB seasons. Most recently, he put together a 3.16 ERA and a 3.96 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 20 missions last season. A baseball America scouting report last winter found the following about its game:
(His) slider is perhaps the best in Japan and he can control it on both sides of the plate. It is a devastating sacrifice if buried against left-handed people. Sugano’s speed had increased slightly in 2020 and it was also causing more swaying punches. He increased his use of fragments and also threw a cutter, curveball and Shuuto. His control was as strong as ever.
Sugano and Tanaka aren’t the only NPB players with MLB ties to be hit by the lockdown. Outfielder Seiya Suzuki, who was posted by his club at the end of November, has “paused” his 30-day negotiation window for the duration of the suspension.
Meanwhile, longtime big league infielder Freddy Galvis was reportedly on the verge of reaching an agreement to join the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks starting Saturday, making him the first MLB player to go overseas rather than wait for the job break.