Right handed Tomoyuki Sugano has decided to pass on the international opt-out clause in its contract and will stay with the Yomiuri Giants for at least one more season. Sugano told Yahoo Japan and other media outlets that his goal was to help the Giants win a championship in 2022.
Sugano was one of the most intriguing names in the free agent market last winter after the Giants posted the righty. The Blue Jays and Padres each made formal contract offers to Sugano, and at least four other teams (the Rangers, Mets, Red Sox, and San Francisco Giants) also had some interest. However, an agreement couldn’t be reached before the 30-day release window was up, as Sugano felt constrained by both this short timeframe and the slow nature of the first pandemic-affected off-season.
The Yomiuri team eventually signed Sugano to a new four-year contract valued at $ 40 million, though Sugano was given the option to opt out after each year of that contract in order to pursue another chance at signing with a major league team . Sugano would have been a full-fledged free agent, no longer restricted by the MLB / NPB posting system, and he was already old enough and experienced not to be subject to international commitment pools.
Long one of the top throwers in Japanese baseball, Sugano was a bad year behind his high standards, a season-reduced season that limited him to 115 2/3 innings. He was still pretty effective when he pitched, hitting a 3.16 ERA, a 22.25% strikeout rate, and a 5.61% walk rate for helping the Giants run the Central League Climax Series where they fell against eventual Japan Series champion Tokyo Yakult Swallows.
Sugano turned 32 in October and has now been set back by injury for two of the last three seasons, although his totals were still strong. Those factors alone might not have stopped Sugano in a normal off-season, but with the lockout now putting everything on hold, it’s no surprise that Sugano chose to stay in familiar surroundings. If he felt things were too rushed within a 30-day release window, Sugano certainly wouldn’t have liked the rush that will come after the transaction freeze ends, when over 200 other free agents will also be battling for contracts before the opening day .