Thyago Viera was apparently set for a return to the majors. He had put together a stellar 2021 season with the Yomiuri Giants and established himself as the dominant closer while setting the Nippon Professional Baseball record for hardest field thrown. With five teams reportedly interested in his services, all that remained was to find the right contract.
That possible return has been put on hold, at least for now. Viera has signed a one-year contract to return to the Giants, his third season with the organization.
Thyago Vieira will stay in Japan in 2022
While it may come as a bit of a surprise that Vieira is returning to Japan, it’s not entirely unexpected. He hadn’t cut a deal before the lockout, and with no end in sight, taking the guaranteed paycheck with the Giants made sense. Likewise, another dominant season will only enhance his earning potential in the US, especially as teams look to solidify their bullpen.
Vieira didn’t exactly light up the majors during his first stint in the United States. He posted a 7.36 ERA and a 1,792 WHiP in his 25.2 innings and hit 24 batters while giving up 14 walks. While he had an excellent fastball, Vieira didn’t master it, hampering his effectiveness.
While command is still an issue for Vieira, it’s certainly improved during his time with the Giants. He’s emerged as her closer, a flamethrower who was able to run through the ninth inning. Vieira has posted a 3.04 ERA and a 1,350 WHiP, hit 93 batters with 43 walks and made 19 saves in his 80 innings in the NPB.
Should Vieira continue to show he can be a viable finish in Japan as he progresses with his command, those major league opportunities should return next offseason. He could still return to the majors, albeit a year later than expected.
Thyago Vieira stays with the Yomiuri Giants for at least a year. His hoped-for major league chance will have to wait.