BOSTON (CBS) — The Red Sox’ search for starting pitching is going international. The team is reportedly going to make a hard push to sign Japanese starter Tomoyuki Sugano, who was posted by the Yomiuri Giants on Tuesday.
With a super thin starting rotation at the moment, the Red Sox will be “aggressive” in their pursuit of the Japanese hurler, according to The Boston Sports Journal’s Sean McAdam. With Sugano now posted by the Giants, any Major League team can sign him after paying a release fee to Yomiuri.
Boston will not be alone, as the San Francisco Giants, San Diego Padres and New York Yankees are also expected to make a run at Sugano, according to MLB.com’s Jon Morosi. Some scouts are putting the 31-year-old right behind reigning NL Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer in this year’s free agent market.
Sugano won the Sawamura Award in both 2017 and 2018, given to the best pitching in the Nippon Professional Baseball League. He went 14-2 with a 1.97 ERA and 131 strikeouts in 137.1 innings for the Giants last season, and touts a 101-49 record with a 2.32 ERA over his eight-year career — all with the Giants.
The righty is said to have “elite” control, with a fastball, slider, changeup and forkball in his arsenal, via Morosi:
One MLB scout said Monday that Sugano’s fastball has late action and typically ranges from 91-93 mph, topping out at 95. Sugano’s slider is known as his best secondary offering, and he also throws a forkball and changeup that can be above-average pitches.
Back in 2007, the Red Sox signed Daisuke Matsuzaka out of Japan after paying a massive $51 million bid for his rights.
The Red Sox have been connected to several starting pitchers on the free agent market, including veterans Corey Kluber and J.A. Happ. Sugano would be a much bigger splash — and a much bigger investment — than those options.
Eduardo Rodriguez and Nathan Eovaldi are the only locks for Boston’s starting rotation at the moment, with Chris Sale expected to miss the first half of the season as he recovers from Tommy John surgery.