The Cardinals are among the teams with interest in right-hander Nick Martinez, reports Jon Heyman of the MLB Network (Twitter link). Martinez, who will reach free agency at the start of December, is coming off a dominant showing with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball. Over 140 2/3 innings, the 31-year-old worked to a 1.60 ERA, striking out a quarter of the batters he faced in the process. After a four-season run in Japan, that strong 2021 campaign could earn Martinez another MLB look this offseason. Heyman suggests upwards of a third of MLB teams could join St. Louis in having interest in giving Martinez another opportunity stateside, although it stands to reason the Hawks would like to re-sign their star hurler as well.
A couple more notes on players currently in Japan’s top league:
- Robert Suárez is on the radar of multiple major league teams, according to a Japanese-language report from Yahoo! Japan (h/t to Sung Min Kim). The 30-year-old has posted incredible numbers serving as the Hanshin Tigers’ closer over the past two seasons. After working to a 2.24 ERA in 52 1/3 innings in 2020, Suárez dominated to the tune of a 1.16 mark across 62 1/3 frames this past season. His peripherals were equally impressive, as the righty struck out 25.3% of opposing hitters against a minuscule 3.5% walk percentage. Suárez has never pitched in the majors but reportedly also caught the attention of big league clubs last winter.
- The Red Sox are among the teams to have scouted NPB star Seiya Suzuki, reports Rob Bradford of WEEI. They’re certainly not alone in that regard, as the Hiroshima Carp outfielder has long been regarded as one of the top talents in Japan. The Carp will make Suzuki available to major league clubs this winter via the posting system, coming off a season in which the 27-year-old mashed at a .319/.436/.644 clip with 38 homers in 530 plate appearances. Between his youth, huge numbers in NPB, and scouting reports that suggest he could immediately step in as an above-average major league right fielder, Suzuki should be one of the winter’s most in-demand free agents. MLBTR projects he’ll land a five-year, $55MM contract — an investment that would cost an MLB team $65.125MM after accounting for the posting fee that would be owed to the Carp were Suzuki to land a $55MM guarantee.