After a lot of contract turmoil and complicated politics, the Roki Sasaki saga over in Japan's NPB seems to have come to a tentative close, for now. Before Sasaki and his NPB team, the Chiba Lotte Marines, came to a contract agreement for 2024 on Jan. 26, Sasaki reportedly withdrew from the Players Association, a highly unprecedented move, and was holding out on his team in order to force their hand after they refused to post him to MLB ahead of schedule.
With Sasaki only being 22 and having just three years of NPB service time under his belt, if he was posted to MLB tomorrow, he'd have to accept an "amateur" label, which would enable major league teams to severely underpay him (see: Shohei Ohtani's deal with the Angels) and, consequently, limit the amount of money the Marines would get for him as well. In order to get a full, uninhibited posting, he'll have to wait until he's 25 and has six years of service time.
Despite some apparent tension, Sasaki and the Marines did agree on a new contract, and have since remained tight-lipped about whether or not that agreement entailed the team acquiescing on Sasaki's early posting demands. This is a little disheartening for the Dodgers, who have clearly been targeting talent coming out of Japan and have had Sasaki on their radar since he was in high school.
3 NPB stars Dodgers can pursue in addition to Roki Sasaski, Yoshinobu Yamamoto
Sasaki won't be coming over to MLB this offseason, and might not even be coming next offseason. However, there's a font of talent playing in Japan at the moment, many of whom we got to see during the 2023 World Baseball Classic. The Dodgers have Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto now, and their recruitment tactics seem to be refined. If they're looking to the future for more Japanese phenoms to sign around/before/after Sasaki, here are three who could make a real splash in MLB.