Yomiuri Giants right-hander Thyago Vieira is drawing interest from Major League clubs as the offseason approaches, MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand tweets. The flamethrowing righty appeared in parts of three big league seasons with the Mariners and White Sox, from 2017-19, before signing overseas in Japan.
Things have gone well for Vieira, 28, in Nippon Professional Baseball. He’s totaled 80 innings out of the Giants’ bullpen over the past two seasons, logging a combined 3.04 ERA with a 26.9% strikeout rate and a 12.4% walk rate.
Vieira averaged 97 mph on his heater during his brief big league run and has the ability to reach triple digits with that fastball — a pitch that drew 80 grades on the 20-80 scouting scale in reports at FanGraphs and MLB.com back in his prospect days. He doesn’t appear to have lost any life on the pitch, as Vieira hit 166 kilometers/103 miles per hour with that pitch earlier this year (YouTube link). Vieira has also drawn praise in the past for an above-average breaking ball, but command (or lack thereof) has generally been problematic. He walked 11.2% of his MLB opponents and 11% of the batters he faced in Triple-A.
Based on his work in NPB to date, those same command problems still exist, but the appeal of that huge fastball and some quality run-prevention numbers in Japan still seem to have drummed up some interest. Feinsand suggests as many as five MLB teams have interest, although the extent of that interest surely varies.
The looming offseason features a relatively thin market for right-handed relievers. Raisel Iglesias is the clear top name available, with pitchers like Kendall Graveman, Corey Knebel, Ryan Tepera and Mark Melancon making up the second tier. Vieira would have the top fastball of any reliever on the market, but it remains to be seen if interest will be substantial enough for him to come back from Japan. Given his success in NPB, he’d surely have some guaranteed offers to remain overseas, so a big league club would presumably need to make a decent offer on a Major League contract.