Major League Baseball or Japan?
Two big-name pitchers whose fate was in the spotlight have decided to stay. Masahiro Tanaka (33) of Rakuten, and Tomoyuki Sugano (32) of the Giants. At the Fan Appreciation Day held on December 4, Tanaka announced that he would continue to play for Rakuten, saying, “I hope that we can all reach the highest point next season. The Giants announced on December 5 that they had decided not to exercise the overseas FA rights they had acquired this season for Sugano.
We don’t know at this point if the two of them will challenge the majors again next offseason. I don’t know at this point if they will try out for the majors again next offseason. I’m not sure if they will try again next offseason.
Tanaka’s record this season is 4 wins, 9 losses and a 3.01 goals-against average, a disappointing result since he returned to Japanese baseball after an eight-year absence from the majors and was widely expected to be a championship contender. In his final appearance after the Orix game on October 25, he told the press
I think I’m largely responsible for the fact that the team finished third (and lost the championship). I put them through a lot of trouble.
Tanaka signed a two-year contract with Rakuten at an estimated salary of 900 million yen, but he had the “right to opt out” of the contract to challenge the majors. He did not exercise that right and stayed.
As he said, the main reason he decided to stay was that he didn’t win a championship, and with only four wins, it was hard for him to say, ‘I’m going to challenge the majors again.
On par with Orix’s Yoshinobu Yamamoto
Still, Tanaka’s future is not bleak. If the team wins the championship next season, there is a good chance that he will challenge the majors again.
I’m sure there will be a major league team that will try to acquire him. Even with four wins this season, Tanaka’s reputation is high. It is not the number of wins that the majors place importance on as a starting pitcher, but how many games he can produce. This season, Tanaka recorded 17 quality starts out of 23 games in which he allowed three earned runs or less in six innings. This was the highest number on the team.
His WHIP, a measure of how many batters he has allowed to reach base in an inning, is 1.03, which ranks second in the league behind Orix’s Yoshinobu Yamamoto, who has swept all the pitching titles, including Best Defensive Efficiency, Most Wins, and Most Strikeouts. He is also fifth in the league in earned run average. Despite being in far from perfect physical condition due to a leg injury, his results are as good as can be expected.
Sugano, on the other hand, had a disappointing performance as an ace, with a 6-7 record and a 3.19 goals-against average. However, unlike Tanaka, the evaluation in the majors seems to be quite harsh.
It seems that Sugano has been searching for a team that would make him an offer since the middle of the season. However, he was not satisfied with the results. The major impact was that he was removed from the roster four times this season due to discomfort in his right elbow. The medical checks in the majors are much stricter than those in Japan, and if you are removed four times, it gives a very bad impression.
Even if he is in perfect physical condition, no team will offer him the multi-year contract that he wants. In addition, Sugano will turn 33 next year, and it is hard to imagine a major league team making a move for an injury-prone player in his mid-30s. It’s hard to imagine a major league team making a move for an injured player in his mid-30s. In effect, we can consider him to have given up on the majors.
Two aces who chose to stay in Japan. The future of both of them will be completely different.
Photo： Kyodo News