Sugano opts to return to NPB for '21 (source)

January 7th, 2021

Tomoyuki Sugano will not be coming to Major League Baseball in 2021.

The Japanese right-hander, who had been posted by Nippon Professional Baseball’s Yomiuri Giants on Dec. 8, did not reach a deal with an MLB team prior to Thursday’s 5 p.m. ET deadline, a source told's Mark Feinsand. Instead, Sugano appears set to return to Yomiuri, which reportedly has offered him a four-year contract that includes opt-out clauses after each season.

Because of that, Sugano could make the jump to the Majors as soon as a year from now, when he might find a more favorable market. The 31-year-old certainly drew interest this winter, with the Blue Jays and Padres among those reported to be most heavily in the mix. Yet Sugano, a two-time winner of the Sawamura Award (given annually to NPB’s top pitcher), apparently did not find an offer to his liking.

Over eight seasons in the NPB, Sugano is 101-50 with a 2.34 ERA and more than 1,200 strikeouts. He posted a sub-3.00 ERA six times, including a 1.97 mark over 20 games in 2020.

The closing of Sugano’s negotiating window removes one of the top starting pitchers from this free-agent market. Beyond reigning National League Cy Young Award winner Trevor Bauer, the most notable remaining rotation options include Jake Odorizzi, Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, Corey Kluber and José Quintana.