The Yomiuri Giants of Nippon Professional Baseball have recruited right-handers Thyago Vieira and first baseman / outfielder Zelous Wheeler, according to reports from Japan. Both players are entering their third season with the Giants, although Wheeler is a long-time veteran of the NPB and also played for the Rakuten Golden Eagles from 2015-2019.
Vieira threw 25 2/3 innings over portions of three seasons with the Mariners and White Sox from 2017-19, with a 7.36 ERA to show off that sneak preview of the majors. The hard-throwing right-handed man found his groove after joining the Tokyo-based Giants prior to the 2020 campaign, and has had an ERA of 3.04 and a 26.9% strikeout rate over 80 for the past two seasons Relief Innings. A 12.4% walk rate is the downside of these numbers, as Vieira’s big fastball has been undermined by a lack of control in both American and Japanese baseball.
Back in October, MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reported that up to five big league clubs were interested in bringing Vieira back to North America, although no deal was made prior to the lockdown. It could be that Vieira simply preferred to stay in familiar surroundings rather than face an onslaught of other pitchers wrestling for contracts after the transaction freeze ended, as it wasn’t necessarily certain that Vieira would guarantee one at all Major would have landed league deal.
Wheeler will turn 35 next month, and although his only MLB experience was 62 Yankees recordings in 2014, the veteran is now well into his 16th season in the pro ball. Wheeler was a 2007 19th round election for the Brewers and spent eight years with organizations in Milwaukee, Baltimore and New York before embarking on a long stint in Japan. Wheeler has hit 0.264 / 0.339 / 0.458 with 133 homers on his 3,107 record appearances in the NPB, bouncing back from a bad year in 2020 to 0.290 / 0.358 / 0.477 with 15 homers in 439 PA for the Giants’ final season.