Yankees Rumors: Star Japanese pitcher believed to be offseason target

He started the World Baseball Classic championship game against Team USA.
World Baseball Classic Championship: United States v Japan
World Baseball Classic Championship: United States v Japan / Eric Espada/GettyImages

When the offseason arrives, the New York Yankees will have plenty of roster holes to fill, most notably on the pitching staff. They'll need at least two starters and two relievers with Frankie Montas, Domingo Germán, Luis Severino, Wandy Peralta and Keynan Middleton hitting the open market.

They're also in the process of transitioning Michael King to the starting rotation and nobody knows how Ron Marinaccio (broken), Scott Effross (Tommy John), Lou Trivino (Tommy John) and Luis Gil (Tommy John) will fare. We can also probably say goodbye to Albert Abreu, Ryan Weber, Nick Ramirez, Franchy Cordero, Ben Rortvedt and one of Billy McKinney/Jake Bauers, all of whom have a 40-man roster spot right now.

There are a lot of pitchers that will be there for the taking, too. Among the starters, Blake Snell, Eduardo Rodriguez, Aaron Nola, Sonny Gray, Lucas Giolito, Jordan Montgomery, Michael Lorenzen and others will be available. As for relievers, Josh Hader, David Robertson, Michael Fulmer, Chris Stratton, Jordan Hicks, John Brebbia and more can be signed.

The rotation remains the primary focus because of the Yankees' ability to almost always field a top bullpen. And it's possible none of the aforementioned options are of interest to the Bombers, if we're to infer from Jon Morosi's latest report.

According to the MLB insider, the Yankees will be among the teams interested in Japanese left-hander Shōta Imanaga, who has put together an incredible career with the Yokohama BayStars. He also started the World Baseball Classic championship game against Team USA this year.

Yankees Rumors: Star Japanese pitcher Shōta Imanaga believed to be offseason target

Imanaga has spent eight seasons as a pro in Japan, accumulating a 74-54 record with a 3.19 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 999 strikeouts in 982.2 innings (162 games). He's expected to be posted by the BayStars in the offseason alongside fellow pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto (Orix Buffaloes).

The difference is Imanaga is turning 30, whereas Yamamoto is turning 25 and has a better body of work. The right-hander is 67-28 with a 2.15 ERA, 0.95 WHIP and 890 strikeouts across 867 innings (168 games).

But Imanaga's pedigree still offers a promising transition to MLB. Additionally, he will be the cheaper, less sought after option, which could help the Yankees in the bidding.

Last offseason, the Mets signed Kodai Senga (who was the same age as Imanaga at the time) to a five-year, $75 million contract and he had a better career to date than Imanaga (2.59 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 1,252 strikeouts in 224 games, totaling 1,089 innings). Senga is thriving in MLB during his rookie season.

We're just trying to paint a positive picture because whatever pitching decisions the Yankees make this coming offseason need to have World Series on the brain, considering the early returns on the organization's youth movement should have them competing for the foreseeable future. Imanaga has the stuff and pedigree to succeed on a bigger stage, so that's a good place to start for a team that's lacked players with the ability to rise to the occasion for quite some time now.