Shota Imanaga (Yokohama Basestars, 30), the star of Japan’s 2023 World Baseball Classic (WBC) victory, will try his hand at Major League Baseball (MLB).
안전놀이터MLB Network’s John Morosi reported on social media on Sunday (July 7) that Imanaga will attempt to enter the MLB via the posting system (closed competitive bidding) after this season ends. MLB.com, the official MLB website, reported that the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, and St. Louis Cardinals are among the teams that could be interested in Imanaga, and that “the Yokohama team’s fee (posting fee) will depend on the size of Imanaga’s guaranteed contract. The posting fee for Kim, who signed a $28 million (37.4 billion won) guaranteed contract with the San Diego Padres, was $5.25 million ($7.4 billion).
Shota Imanaga pitching. Getty Images
Imanaga is currently the best left-handed starter in Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB). In 19 appearances this season, he has a 7-3 record with a 2.81 ERA. He has pitched exclusively for Yokohama since his debut in 2016 and has a career NPB record of 64-49 with a 3.19 ERA. His fastball sits over 150 km/h and he mixes in a slider and changeup. In June 2022, he threw the 96th no-hitter in NPB history against the Nippon Ham Fighters. At the WBC in March, he shared the mound with Shohei Ohtani (LA Angels) and Darvish Yu (San Diego) to help Japan win the title.
Japan has already reported that Yoshinobu Yamamoto (25-Oryx Buffaloes) will be knocking on the MLB door after the season. Yamamoto won the Sawamura Award, which is given to the top pitcher in NPB in 2021 and 2022, for the second straight year. He is 13-5 with a 1.34 ERA this year. His NPB career record is 67-28 with a 1.86 ERA, making him more reliable than Imanaga.