Pitcher Tomoyuki Sugano signed a ¥650 million contract Monday, equaling Nippon Professional Baseball’s highest reported deal for a Japanese player.
The 29-year-old’s one-year deal, worth approximately $5.7 million, matches the salary paid to reliever Kazuhiro Sasaki in 2004 and 2005 after his return from the major leagues. Sugano’s contract surpasses the highest previous figure reported by the Giants, the ¥610 million paid to slugger Hideki Matsui in 2002, his final NPB season.
“I want to go higher. I’m inspired to set higher goals for myself,” said Sugano, who led the Central League with 10 complete games, eight shutouts, 202 innings, 200 strikeouts and a 2.14 ERA, while tying for the league lead with 15 wins.
Sugano won his second-straight Sawamura Award as Japan’s most impressive starting pitcher this season.
The Giants players’ rep, Sugano said bigger salaries are a good sign for NPB, despite the belief that Japan’s baseball-playing population is decreasing.
“Revenues for our club, for all the teams are on the rise,” he said. “In the future I don’t think it will be strange to see a player earning ¥1 billion ($8.8 million).”
“With the Tokyo Olympics approaching, the baseball world has to get people excited. If we do that, then bigger salaries would be natural. I already had thoughts of baseball since I was little, but I think that would increase the number of people who want to be baseball players.”