Yomiuri Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano said Sunday he turned down offers from major league clubs because none of them were 100% convincing but added that returning for another season in Japan didn’t leave him without regret.
Speaking to reporters online, the 31-year-old Sugano expressed some frustration with the conditions under which he was forced to negotiate.
“There were a lot of discussions, but none were able to convince me 100%,” he said. “I can’t say I have no regrets about not going. I have a fire inside me and the best thing is to move forward with high expectations for myself.”
Sugano’s agent Joel Wolfe told media that six teams made offers to sign the right-hander, who is a two-time MVP in the Central League and a two-time winner of the Sawamura Award as Nippon Professional Baseball’s most impressive starting pitcher.
Wolfe said the final decision was made with two minutes left to go before the 30-day period allowed by the posting system expired on Thursday.
Sugano blamed the limited amount of time available and MLB’s slow offseason free agent market.
“The market wasn’t moving. Players weren’t being signed who should have been,” he said. “I think I needed just a little more time.”
Sugano said he sought advice from two compatriots, Kenta Maeda of the Minnesota Twins and new San Diego Padres pitcher Yu Darvish.
“They were very helpful in my decision-making,” Sugano said. “They are superb players, getting it done on the major leagues’ front lines. I consulted them regarding the environment and conditions.”
As a posted player who failed to conclude a deal abroad, Sugano remains under the control of the Giants, with whom he said he will now try to win 20 games, a third straight CL pennant and the team’s first Japan Series championship since 2012.
“Twenty wins for me personally and be No. 1 in Japan,” he said when asked his goals for 2021.
“I had good times last year and bad times, too. I feel I can be better still.”
Sugano is now one season away from being able to move to the majors as a free agent, with no signing deadline or transfer fee.
“I believe I still have a chance to take on the major league challenge,” he said.
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