FEBRUARY 15: Shoemaker’s deal with Yomiuri is now official, according to an announcement from his representatives (on Twitter).
FEBRUARY 5: According to a Japanese-language report from Sports Hochi, Matt Shoemaker is nearing agreement on a deal with the Yomiuri Giants of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball (h/t to Sung Min Kim). If finalized, it’d be the first career stint outside of North America for the client of Beverly Hills Sports Council.
Shoemaker has pitched in the majors in each of the past nine seasons. He broke in with a one-start cameo for the Angels in 2013 but was a regular member of their starting staff over the next few years. Shoemaker worked 135+ innings every year between 2014-16, posting quality mid-rotation numbers throughout that run. Unfortunately, the righty dealt with recurring health issues over the next few seasons. He underwent surgeries to address nerve issues in his forearm during both 2017 and 2018 before suffering a season-ending ACL tear five starts into the 2019 campaign.
After returning to make six starts with the Blue Jays during the abbreviated 2020 schedule, the Michigan native signed a one-year deal with the Twins last offseason. The stint in Minnesota didn’t go well, as Shoemaker’s strikeout rate tumbled to a career-worst 14.1% while he struggled mightily to keep the ball in the yard. He was outrighted off the Twins’ 40-man roster in early July and released from Triple-A St. Paul a month later.
Late last season, Shoemaker hooked on with the San Francisco Giants on a minors deal. He fared better over nine appearances (eight starts) with their top affiliate in Sacramento. His 4.83 ERA there isn’t eye-catching, but Shoemaker both quieted his home run concerns and posted plus strikeout and walk numbers (26% and 4.3%, respectively). Nevertheless, he didn’t get a big league call with San Francisco and elected minor league free agency after the season.
Presuming a deal gets completed, Shoemaker will head to Japan owner of a 4.24 ERA/4.03 SIERA across 662 2/3 major league innings. He’ll likely take on a key rotation role with the Tokyo-based club, which has also landed recent big leaguers Gregory Polanco and Matt Andriese this winter. Shoemaker turned 35 years old in September, but given his lengthy track record, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him reappear on the MLB radar next offseason if he performs well in Japan.