Roki Sasaki Is Set To Move To MLB: Mets & Yankees Among The Leading Teams To Pursue Him

Even if the MLB regular season of 2024 is just getting started, it’s never too early to start planning for the upcoming offseason. Over the weekend, eight teams reportedly scouted right-hander Roki Sasaki, who made his season debut for the Chiba Lotte Marines in Japan, according Yahoo! Japan. Among them, according to the Los Angeles Times and SNY, were the Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets, and New York Yankees.

Roki Sasaki Is Set To Move To MLB: Mets & Yankees Among The Leading Teams To Pursue Him

Sasaki is the greatest pitcher in the world outside of Major League Baseball, and the 22-year-old phenomenon is reported to have outperformed Yoshinobu Yamamoto in terms of growth at the same age. Yamamoto is currently a Dodger. Sasaki made his season debut this past weekend, pitching five innings, striking out seven while giving up one run on six hits and a walk.

Sasaki will lose out on a sizable salary if he gets posted in 2024–2025 or in any offseason before to turning 25. This is due to MLB regulations prohibiting players under 25 and with less than six professional seasons from signing contracts other than minor league ones. For Sasaki, the transaction would be deducted from the international bonus pool that his signing team is allocated.

Because of the aforementioned regulation, Shohei Ohtani, who was 23 at the time, only signed a $2.315 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels in 2017.

Throughout his first three professional seasons with the Marines, Sasaki has been extremely dominant, striking out 395 hitters in 303.2 innings across 51 games with a 1.90 ERA and 0.82 WHIP.

His rate of strikeouts increased from 9.4 per nine in his first season to 12.0 in 2022 and 13.4 in 2023.

This next winter, Sasaki has made it apparent that he wants to be posted by MLB teams. Though coming over this offseason would be the worst financial decision for Sasaki and the Marines, they have not yet committed to posting him. Sasaki’s signing bonus would be severely limited because he will only be 23 this offseason and would be subject to MLB’s international bonus pools.

Every year, the biggest overseas bonus pools are around $7 million. The maximum signing bonus for Sasaki is in the neighborhood of $11 million since teams are able to trade for an extra 60%.

Players under 25 years old and those with fewer than six professional seasons are not permitted to sign contracts larger than minor league ones by MLB. Finally, Sasaski resigned from the Chiba Lotte Marines, ending any rumors that he will be posted. Nevertheless, he may submit the same request in the upcoming offseason. He may lose out on a hefty free agent salary if he is posted before turning 25, but he has never hidden his ambition to throw in Major League Baseball.

Thus, it should come as no surprise that Sasaski is being pursued by a number of MLB organizations. The two-time NPB All-Star, though, could already have made up his mind about where he wants to throw in 2025 and beyond. Bob Nightengale of USA Today claims that “several GMs” are under the impression that Sasaki “already has plans to sign with the Dodgers” during the 2024-25 offseason.

Financially, coming over this summer would level the playing field. At that time, it would be evident that Sasaki is not interested in maximizing money, and teams would not be able to just increase the amount of their offers until he accepted them. They will need to convince him of the organization’s suitability. The Dodgers are said to have been in the lead early on to sign Sasaki, which is not surprising.

“Every team in baseball wants this guy but there’s no way he’s going anywhere else but the Dodgers,” an unnamed GM told USA Today recently. “We all know it.”

When Japan ran the table and won the World Baseball Classic the previous year, Sasaki was a teammate of Ohtani and Yamamoto. Nevertheless, not all Japanese players end up in L.A. This summer, the Chicago Cubs added left-hander Shota Imanaga, while East Coast teams signed Kodai Senga (Mets) and Masataka Yoshida (Boston Red Sox) previous offseason.

According to one general manager, “There’s no way he’s going anywhere else but the Dodgers. We all know it.” While that particular comment was spoken in no uncertain terms, it also sounds more like conjecture than insider knowledge. Indeed, this entire report may be more speculation on the part of the executives than anything else. After all, at least seven teams besides the Dodgers are actively scouting Sasaski, and they wouldn’t be doing so if they didn’t think they had a chance to secure his services in the future. Moreover, even if Sasaki truly does have his sights set on the Dodgers, the rest of the league will still have an opportunity to change his mind.”

Why is Roki Sasaki not in the MLB?

Like most things, money is undoubtedly a big problem. If Sasaki joins MLB before his 25th birthday on November 3, 2026, he will forfeit a king’s ransom. Teams are limited in how much they may pay players under 25 who haven’t played six professional seasons by the MLB collective bargaining agreement.

How old is Sasaki on Team Japan?

With just three seasons of Nippon Professional Baseball experience under his belt, Rōki Sasaki, a 22-year-old pitching ace, is already considering a major league career.

Is Roki Sasaki a starter?

Right-handed starter Roki Sasaki, 22, was selected by the Chiba Lotte Marines in the 2019 draft and made his NPB debut. In his first full year in the Marines’ rotation, Sasaki recorded a 2.20 ERA and 1.70 FIP, striking out 35.3% of hitters while walking just 4.7% in 129 1/3 innings.



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