9:52pm: Morosi now reports that Okamoto isn’t on track to surpass the nine-year NPB service threshold for international free agency until the 2026-27 offseason. While the Giants could ostensibly still make him available via the posting system, there’s not much incentive for them to do so until after the ’25 campaign.
9:48pm: Yomiuri Giants corner infielder Kazuma Okamoto is on the radar of major league clubs, tweets Jon Morosi of MLB.com. Morosi doesn’t cite any specific MLB teams with interest but notes that clubs have been evaluating the 27-year-old in case he becomes available during the upcoming offseason.
Okamoto has played parts of nine seasons in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball. He wasn’t established at the NPB level until 2018, however, so he’ll still have less than nine full seasons of NPB service time. As a result, he won’t be eligible for unrestricted international free agency until the 2024-25 offseason.
It’s not uncommon for NPB teams to make a player available to MLB clubs the winter before their free agent year via the posting system. That’d entitle the NPB club to compensation, as a signing MLB organization has to pay a release fee to the NPB team to sign a player who’d been posted. If the NPB team waits until the player hits international free agency, they’d receive no money if he departs.
The Giants previously posted Shun Yamaguchi, paving the way for him to sign with the Blue Jays during the 2019-20 offseason. They made Tomoyuki Sugano available via the posting system the ensuing offseason, though he eventually re-signed with Yomiuri and has never made the jump to MLB. Whether they’d be willing to make Okamoto available is unclear.
If he hits the market, Okamoto would be an intriguing upside play in a class light on bats. He’s raking at a .301/.393/.627 clip over 504 plate appearances this season. He has already connected on 37 home runs, leading qualified NPB hitters by 11 longballs. He unsurprisingly also tops the league in slugging and ranks fifth in on-base percentage.
Okamoto has established himself as one of Japan’s more consistent power bats. He has eclipsed 30 homers in six straight seasons. This is trending as a career year — he had a comparatively modest .252/.336/.469 slash a season ago — but he clearly brings right-handed power. Okamoto represented Japan in this year’s World Baseball Classic, connecting on a homer off Kyle Freeland in an eventual 3-2 win in the championship.