Another star pitcher is expected to hit the free agent market this offseason, but he would be heading overseas if a team signs him.
Japanese star hurler Tomoyuki Sugano of the Yomiuri Giants (Nippon Professional Baseball) is expected to be posted for MLB teams to sign "as early as this week," per MLB.com's Jon Morosi. And while discussing who might jump at the opportunity to sign him, the Yankees were among the group.
The San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants were also named in the report, but given the Yankees' need for starting pitching and wanting to save some money while finding it, Sugano could be of interest.
The righty owns a 2.34 ERA over eight seasons with the Yomiuri Giants and has an astonishing 4.59 strikeout-to-walk ratio (1,216 strikeouts/265 walks). The Sawamura Award, which is given to the top starter in the NPB, has gone to Sugano twice in his career.
The Yankees will also be thinking long and hard about re-signing the last Japanese star they brought to the Bronx: Masahiro Tanaka. He has already shown success in New York, though he was a bit shaky in 2020. Both pitchers are very close in age as well -- Sugano is 31 while Tanaka is 32 -- so it will be interesting to see if GM Brian Cashman is leaning one way or another this winter.
At the moment, Gerrit Cole is the only sure starter for 2021. Luis Severino is awaiting return from Tommy John surgery while James Paxton, J.A. Happ and Tanaka are all free agents. Jordan Montgomery and Domingo German as well as Deivi Garcia and Clarke Schmidt figure to be in the running, too.