Dodgers should be keeping tabs on Japanese ace Tomoyuki Sugano

Thomas Carannante
TOKYO, JAPAN - MARCH 14: Pitcher Tomoyuki Sugano #11 of Japan throws in the top of the first inning during the World Baseball Classic Pool E Game Four between Cuba and Japan at the Tokyo Dome on March 14, 2017 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN - MARCH 14: Pitcher Tomoyuki Sugano #11 of Japan throws in the top of the first inning during the World Baseball Classic Pool E Game Four between Cuba and Japan at the Tokyo Dome on March 14, 2017 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images) /
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The Dodgers should be pursuing Japanese ace Tomoyuki Sugano.

The Los Angeles Dodgers have a decent amount of work cut out for them this offseason, but fans still want the team to shoot for the stars. That’s why the calls for a Trevor Bauer signing or a blockbuster trade for a guy like Nolan Arenado have been dominating most of the headlines.

However, it’s clear the Dodgers will be a bit reluctant to spend heavily during this pandemic offseason after having over $50 million come off the books in addition to guys like Corey Seager, Cody Bellinger and Clayton Kershaw in need of contract extensions at some point in the not-too-distant future.

And when you think about it, it’s pretty confusing that the Dodgers have yet to be linked to Japanese ace Tomoyuki Sugano. If they want a reliable arm to bolster their pitching staff (particularly in starting rotation), Sugano could be among the most cost-effective options. So what gives?

Sugano’s been a titan across eight seasons in the Nippon Professional Baseball Organization and has won the Japanese equivalent of the Cy Young award twice in his career. Throughout his tenure with the Yomiuri Giants, the right-hander helped the team advance to four Japanese Series championships (though they failed to win it all every time).

ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel predicted that Sugano would land a two-year, $24 million contract with an MLB team (in addition to the posting fee, which is obviously yet to be determined). If the Dodgers are hesitant about spending over $100 million on a guy like Bauer, maybe something in this range could make them more comfortable.

Sugano projects as a No. 2 or 3 starter in the States, so this feels like it’d be a worthwhile addition. The Dodgers already have a stacked rotation, but more help in the form of a battle-tested veteran like Sugano at that price could help them round out their starting staff and/or solidify the bullpen (perhaps a full-time move there for Dustin May or Tony Gonsolin?). After all, we don’t really know the Dodgers’ plan for either of those guys.

The Padres and Giants were among the first to express interest, so it’s not out of the question that the 31-year-old may prefer the West Coast since it’s the closest he can possibly be to Japan.

We’d like to think the World Champs would have an edge over those two largely underachieving NL West clubs. Wouldn’t it be satisfying to swipe him from those division rivals and really flex this offseason?

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