One week after rejecting a big-league contract, ace right-hander Tomoyuki Sugano re-signed with the Yomiuri Giants on a one-year deal reported as the highest in Japanese baseball history.
Sugano, who remained under Giants control after failing to sign a major league contract by the time his posting-system deadline expired last week, signed for a reported ¥800 million ($7.6 million). He turned down a four-year agreement with an eye on moving to the majors in 2022 after qualifying for international free agency this year.
“When this season ends, if I have another chance, I think I want to give playing over there another shot,” Sugano told reporters online.
The previous high for a reported annual salary in Japan was Roberto Petagine’s 2003 two-year Giants deal listed at ¥720 million. Contract amounts in Japan are not made public, and reported figures — especially on big contracts — are not always accurate.
According to Sugano’s agent, the 31-year-old right-hander fielded offers from six big-league teams, but Sugano said he was not 100% convinced by the offers in a market hampered by major league teams’ issues with the coronavirus pandemic.
Sugano, a two-time MVP in Central League and a two-time winner of the Eiji Sawamura Award as NPB’s most impressive starting pitcher, said now he wants to prove he’s worth the money.
“I have to deliver a performance worthy of this figure,” he said. “I’m conscious of this, I feel responsible, and I want my pitching to show this.”
Sugano is said to have earned ¥650 million last year, which matched the highest figure reported for a domestic player in Nippon Professional Baseball.
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