Yankees Rumors: Could NYY and Red Sox battle over Japanese ace?


The Yankees will definitely be pursuing recently-posted Japanese ace Tomoyuki Sugano — but will the Boston Red Sox be joining them?

When last we spoke of Yomiuri Giants two-time Sawamura Award-winning ace Tomoyuki Sugano’s imminent posting, it was agreed upon that three MLB teams seemed to be in the lead to chase him: the Yankees, alongside two west coast teams in the San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants.

Sugano’s posting became official on Monday, and it appeared — initially — as though nothing had changed.

There was the news, and attached were the same three names. Clearly, the Yankees weren’t warded off by complete silence, and still intend to make their pursuit.

Sugano, a 31-year-old righty innings eater who also strikes out about a man per inning, has been the Cy Young equivalent in his native Japan twice, and is coming off one of his elite career’s best seasons. In 137.1 strange innings of pandemic baseball, he managed to post a 1.97 ERA and strike out 131 men, returning to form after a hip injury-shortened 2019.

He’s the real deal, and he could be an excellent bit of glue for a team looking for mid-rotation insurance — Yankees on line one?

But wait a second — could there be a louder cry for Sugano’s services? Boston insider Sean McAdam seems to think the Boston Red Sox will be involved in these conversations.

And I guess that means Sugano just leapt up New York’s list of priorities, too?

Sugano won’t cost a ton, and will be a viable option for both rebuilding teams in desperate need of pitching, like the Red Sox and Giants, and contenders who want reinforcement. That includes the Yankees, a team with an untested starting staff behind Gerrit Cole, and the Padres, a team that just lost its centerpiece for the season in Mike Clevinger.

ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel projects that, in addition to his posting fee, Sugano will command somewhere in the neighborhood of a two-year, $24 million deal. For someone who’s a tier below Trevor Bauer (and likely below Masahiro Tanaka, too), that’s quite viable.

And with the Red Sox somehow involved, the Sugano chase could be the AL East pivot point none of us wanted.