The Yomiuri Giants will let ace right-hander Tomoyuki Sugano move to the major leagues via the posting system should the player request it, an executive from the Central League team said Thursday.
Sugano, a two-time winner of the prestigious Eiji Sawamura Award as Japanese professional baseball's most impressive starting pitcher, is not eligible to file for international free agency yet and would need to go through the posting process to sign a Major League Baseball contract.
According to the source, the 31-year-old Sugano will sit down and formally discuss the possibility of a move to the United States with Giants officials in the coming days.
"He's still debating whether the (MLB) environment is ideal for achieving his best performance, and there are other pressures too," the source said, including the MLB's challenges in playing amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Sugano, who has a career record of 101-49 with a 2.32 ERA over eight seasons, is considered a solid major league pitching prospect possessing a superior slider, and extraordinary command and poise.
He sat out the 2012 season as an amateur so he could play for his uncle, Giants manager Tatsunori Hara, after the Nippon Ham Fighters won his rights in the 2011 draft.
Shun Yamaguchi, who signed with Toronto Blue Jays last offseason, was the first Giants player to be involved in the posting system.
Sugano is the third top NPB player likely headed for the major leagues this winter, joining two 28-year-old Fighters players, ace pitcher Kohei Arihara and center fielder and leadoff man Haruki Nishikawa.