Yankees are among teams interested in star Japanese ace, according to reports

Baseball: World Baseball Classic - Semifinal Japan vs Mexico
Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Erik Boland of Newsday reported earlier today that the New York Yankees are among teams that have scouted star Japanese right-hander Roki Sasaki all season. While they are not alone in their desire and pursuit of the electric ace, they seem to be extensively scouting him during another fine season for the 23-year-old. Not eligible for the massive contract that his fellow countryman Yoshinobu Yamamoto got from the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Yankees would not have to outbid anyone, but rather persuade the emerging ace to join their organization.

Through nine starts this season, Sasaki has a 1.96 ERA and a 0.972 WHIP, which are worse than his marks from last season, but still utterly dominant. His fastball velocity has fluctuated (potentially as an attempt to stay healthy), but the stuff is reminiscent of the best pitchers in the game, and he could be a difference-maker this winter.

Roki Sasaki Drawing Interest From Teams Including the Yankees

Baseball: World Baseball Classic - Semifinal Japan vs Mexico
Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Few pitchers have the stuff and upside that Roki Sasaki possesses, and since he won’t command the top dollar that most elite starters do, he will be a hot commodity across the sport. The Yankees could get a cost-controlled ace that can blow away hitters with dominant stuff and velocity if he chooses them, but they will have a hard path toward winning him over.

First and foremost, you have the Los Angeles Dodgers ready to recruit another Japanese star, with the prospect of playing alongside both Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto being enticing. You also have teams like the San Diego Padres who are expected to be aggressive in their pursuit, with AJ Preller himself name-dropping Roki Sasaki in a press conference regarding the importance of bringing in international talent.

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MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at New York Yankees

The New York Mets, who were one of the finalists for Yoshinobu Yamamoto, will be in this race as well, having scouts in Japan as well and an emerging young core that could appeal to a player like Sasaki, who could become the face of the franchise and join Kodai Senga in the rotation.

Plenty of teams will be in the bidding that I haven’t mentioned, and while it’s still the New York Yankees, they are an East Coast team and we’ve seen Japanese stars favor the West Coast due to proximity. At the end of the day, we don’t know who he’ll end up signing with right now, but the Yankees certainly believe they have a chance if they have multiple scouts watching him all season. You don’t just send people to Japan for the fun of it, you do it with a serious intent to pursue a player, and money won’t play a factor in the Yankees’ ability to land him.

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