JANUARY 4, 10:29 am: While the Mets have been in contact with Sugano at times this offseason, it currently “appears their main focus is elsewhere,” reports Heyman (Twitter link). Joel Sherman of the New York Post concurs (via Twitter), hearing that the Mets are “not in” on Sugano at this point.
JANUARY 4, 7:52 am: The expectation is that Sugano will decide on his destination by Tuesday, hears Jon Heyman of MLB Network (Twitter link).
JANUARY 3: Japanese free agent Tomoyuki Sugano has until Thursday to sign with a Major League team if he wants to make the jump to the states, but he’s in a strong negotiating position. Sugano has a four-year offer from the Yomiuri Giants that includes three opt-outs, per the Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal (via Twitter). With that kind of offer in-hand, the highly-decorated NPB superstar need only make his move to MLB for an offer that checks all his boxes. MLBTR readers foresee the Mets winning the Sugano sweepstakes. Only 9.57% of readers thus far predict a return to Japan for Sugano. The right-hander must make a decision before 5 pm on Thursday when his posting period expires.
Optimists eager to see Sugano take on MLB hitters might see signs pointing to a stateside commitment, however. The contracts being offered Sugano by MLB teams surpass the offer from the Yomiyuri Giants, at least in total dollar amount, and he’s deep into negotiations with a couple of clubs, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. The presumption is that Sugano will only cross the pond to join a large market team. MLBTR readers may be on the right track by predicting the Mets as his next team, but the Giants, Red Sox, and Blue Jays also qualify, and all three clubs appear to have interest.
Sugano’s standing offer from his long-time employer in Japan provides him with a good deal of personal agency. Those opt-outs mean that Sugano could replay this saga after each consecutive season, should he so choose. As one of the biggest stars in Japan, Sugano may be itching for a new challenge. He owns a 2.34 career ERA after eight seasons with the Giants, two of which ended with Sugano taking home the top honor for starting pitchers in the NPB, Sherman notes.
Though Sugano has until Thursday’s deadline to decide, it’s likely that he makes his decision sooner, notes both Rosenthal and Sherman. The 31-year-old could bet that owners will dole out more lucrative offers a year from now, presumably after a season that will include partial fan attendance. At that point he’d be entering his age-32 season, which may also be a consideration for the legendary hurler.