Saturday, June 15, 2024

Roki Sasaki update: MLB executives ‘planning’ for NPB ace to be posted this offseason, per report

Must read

Major League Baseball executives are “planning” for Japanese right-hander Roki Sasaki to be posted this offseason, according to Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post. Janes adds that neither Sasaki nor his team, the Chiba Lotte Marines of the Nippon Professional Baseball league, have confirmed that to be the case — nor are they likely to anytime soon. Janes does quote one of Sasaki’s teammates, former MLB outfielder Gregory Polanco, who says that Sasaki asks him about the majors “every day” and said Sasaki is “so ready to go.”

Sasaki, 22, is considered to be the most talented pitcher in the world who has not thrown a pitch as part of an MLB game now that Yoshinobu Yamamoto has joined the Los Angeles Dodgers. He first rose to global prominence in 2022, when he struck out 19 batters in a perfect game. Sasaki has started eight times this year, amassing a 2.18 ERA that, believe it or not, has caused his career ERA to increase to 1.94.

CBS Sports offered the following report on Sasaki over the offseason, when it was reported that he wanted to be posted for MLB consideration after the upcoming season:

Sasaki has two massive offerings, an upper-90s rising fastball and a devastating splitter/forkball, and a shockingly good feel for throwing strikes based on his age and his stuff. He’s struck out 34% of the batters he’s faced as a professional, all the while walking just 5% of them. That 29% margin, for reference, would’ve ranked second in the majors in 2023, behind only Atlanta Braves flamethrower Spencer Strider. Sasaki does need to improve his durability. He was limited to 91 innings last year by an oblique injury, and to date he’s cleared the century mark just once. Otherwise, Sasaki can rightly claim to already be one of the planet’s most talented pitchers. 

As CBS Sports noted then, the Marines have millions upon millions of reasons to hold off on posting Sasaki. Under MLB’s agreement with NPB, players who don’t meet certain age and service-time thresholds are classified as amateur free agents. Sasaki does not meet those requirements, meaning he would indeed be labeled an amateur free agent — the Marines would have to wait another two years for him to clear those thresholds. That designation not only limits how much those players can sign for — they’re subject to the international amateur free-agent bonus pools, the same way Shohei Ohtani was when he came over —  and, in turn, limits how much their original team receives.

Here’s a breakdown of the posting fee tiers:

  • Contract worth less than $25 million: 20% of contract value
  • Contract worth $25 million to $50 million: $5 million plus 17.5% of amount over $25 million
  • Contract worth more than $50 million: $9.275 million plus 15% of amount over $50 million

The Los Angeles Dodgers have long been known to have interest in Sasaki. Top executive Andrew Friedman was seen at Team Japan’s workouts prior to last spring’s World Baseball Classic. Friedman has since signed Ohtani and Yamamoto, two of the other stars of that club.

Latest article