MLB News

Shota Imanaga free agency: Three things to know about NPB pitcher overshadowed by Yoshinobu Yamamoto

Shota Imanaga free agency: Three things to know about NPB pitcher overshadowed by Yoshinobu Yamamoto


It’s no secret that Japanese pitchers have dominated Major League Baseball’s offseason. First, it was two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani. Then came Yoshinobu Yamamoto, who has since joined Ohtani with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Roki Sasaki grabbed his share of headlines because of his rumored desire to bring his talents across the Pacific Ocean as soon as possible.

While Sasaki’s arrival date is yet to be determined — it could be next winter, or not for a while — the same is not true for longtime Yokohama DeNA BayStars left-hander Shota Imanaga, who has been overlooked on the public front as he closes in on the Jan. 11 deadline of his posting window

Rest assured that Imanaga is a known quantity to MLB front offices. A number of teams’ interest in him has been bruited about, ranging from the New York Yankees to the Boston Red Sox to the San Francisco Giants. Entering the offseason, CBS Sports considered Imanaga to be the winter’s 42nd best free agent. That rank appears to have undersold Imanaga’s market, with ESPN’s Jeff Passan reporting earlier this month that he could fetch a nine-figure deal. (Imanaga, 30, is not subject to MLB’s wage-suppressing rules for younger international players.)

Just who is Imanaga and what makes him interesting? Below, we’ve highlighted three other things worth knowing about him and his game.

1. Impressive track record

Imanaga may lack Ohtani’s starpower, Yamamoto’s accolades, and Sasaki’s intrigue, but that doesn’t mean he’s some tomato can. Rather, he’s a highly accomplished pitcher who scouts have tabbed as a mid-rotation type in MLB.

Across eight seasons in NPB, the world’s second-best league, Imanaga amassed a 2.96 ERA and struck out more than 26% of the batters he faced. (He even led the Central League in strikeouts last season.) He made two All-Star Games and he threw a no-hitter against the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters in 2022.

Imanaga has also represented Japan in international competition. Those who watched the World Baseball Classic final last spring may recall seeing him strike out a pair in two innings of work against the American squad. 

2. Intriguing profile

Despite Imanaga’s strikeout tendencies in Japan, he’s not going to blow anyone away with pure velocity on this side of the Pacific. His fastball averaged just 92 mph last season, according to data obtained by CBS Sports. For reference, MLB lefties averaged 93.2 mph on…

Click Here to Read the Full Original Article at CBSSports.com Headlines…