3 Japanese stars Dodgers can pursue in addition to Roki Sasaki

The Dodgers aren't nearly done yet.

World Baseball Classic Championship: United States v Japan
World Baseball Classic Championship: United States v Japan / Eric Espada/GettyImages
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Munetaka Murakami, INF

Going into the 2023 WBC, Murakami, who was barely 23 at the time, was expected to break out as one of the biggest heroes of the tournament for Team Japan alongside Sasaki as NPB's premier slugger. He had already won two league MVPs in 2021 and 2022, the batting Triple Crown in 2022, and his league's Rookie of the Year award in 2019 with the Tokyo Yakult Swallows. However, his bat was largely quiet during the tournament — until it mattered most.

In an absolute nail biter of a semi-final against Team Mexico, Murakami came up in the bottom of the ninth with runners on first on second and Japan down by one before smashing a long double to deep center to win the game for Japan. His one and only home run during the tournament came in the championship game against Team USA with Merrill Kelly pitching, a solo homer to tie the game in the bottom of the second and give Japan some momentum that would lead them to win, 3-2.

Murakami's 2023 season with the Swallows wasn't as stellar as his previous years. He hit .256/.375/.500 in 140 games with 31 home runs and 84 RBI — not numbers to sniff at, but notably worse than the ones from his mammoth 2022 season, when he hit .318/.458/.711 with 56 home runs and 134 RBI. He still has two years to go before he can be posted at full-price to MLB, and if he can get back to his 2022 ways during that time, he'll be an incredibly hot commodity if he does receive a posting.