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Mets among five teams in pursuit of star Japanese pitcher: Report

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The New York Mets are in the running for star Japanese pitcher, Tomoyuki Sugano, along with the Toronto Blue Jays, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants and Boston Red Sox, according to MLB Network’s Jon Morosi on Sunday morning.

A 31-year-old right-hander, Sugano has been a standout hurler for the Yomiuri Giants of the Nippon Professional Baseball Organization (NPB) over the last eight years, winning the Sawamura Award — Japan’s version of the Cy Young Award — two times. In 196 career games, he is 101-49 with a 2.34 ERA, a 1.032 WHIP and a 4.58 strikeouts-to-walk ratio.

Yomiuri posted Sugano on Dec. 7, giving interested MLB teams until Jan. 7 to sign him, as per an agreement between the two leagues. If he is not signed within the one-month window, he must return to Japan to play in 2021.

The Mets are leaving no stone unturned in their pursuit of starting pitching depth as upgrades are expected this offseason under the new regime of Steve Cohen, Sandy Alderson, and GM Jared Porter. This offseason has seen them linked to 2020 NL Cy Young Award winner, Trevor Bauer, as a No. 2 option behind Jacob deGrom, alongside the likes of Jake Odorizzi as a mid-rotation option.

It is unclear as of now where Sugano projects within a major-league rotation — whether that’s as a top-tier arm or that of a No. 3 or 4 option — but he is known for possessing a low-90s fastball, an effective slider and pinpoint command.

If the Mets believe Sugano could be a No. 2 or 3 starter behind deGrom and potentially Marcus Stroman — or Noah Syndergaard if he returns effectively from Tommy John surgery in June or July — the international star would be a much cheaper option compared to Bauer, who is expected to make well over $20 million annually.

Otherwise, he’s a veteran option to bolster the rotation, providing a much better option compared to last year when the Mets attempted to rely heavily on Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha.

This story first appeared on amny.com.

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