Yankees were among a group of 8 teams that scouted NPB ace, according to reports

Baseball: World Baseball Classic - Semifinal Japan vs Mexico
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Roki Sasaki will make headlines in the near future when he’s posted for free agency, and the Yankees are already getting a headstart on scouting him. The right-hander is under some uncertainty regarding when he’ll get posted, as there’s been some information that suggests his deal with the Chiba Lotte Marines has an opt-out for him after the 2024 season. It’s unclear whether his team has to honor that clause or not, but what we do know is that the 22-year-old ace is one of the most talented pitchers on the planet.

Sporting a fastball that’s exceeded 100 MPH frequently, this article from Yahoo Japan reports that the Yankees, Mets, Cardinals, and Dodgers are some of the teams that scouted him.

Roki Sasaki is Already Being Scouted By the Yankees

Baseball: World Baseball Classic - Semifinal Japan vs Mexico
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This should be one of the most exhilarating free-agent sagas to watch, as Roki Sasaki is considered even more talented than Yoshinobu Yamamoto by some. We all remember how invested the Yankees were in that pursuit, finishing as the runner-up to the Los Angeles Dodgers, who secured him to a 12-year $325 million deal, making it the largest contract ever handed to a pitcher in MLB history.

Gerrit Cole, who signed a nine-year $324 million deal with the Yankees after the 2019 season, was the previous record-holder in that regard. What makes this situation so interesting is that if Sasaki were to opt out of his contract and reach international free agency, he would be posted in the same manner that Shohei Ohtani was after the 2017 season.

Brian Cashman was vocal about his desire for the two-way phenom, who rejected the Yankees and went on to sign with the Los Angeles Angels that winter. In that scenario for Roki Sasaki, whichever team acquires him would get him six years of team control, as his contract would mirror the one of a rookie with a league minimum deal that eventually becomes arbitration salary.

MLB: Spring Training-Colorado Rockies at Los Angeles Dodgers
Mar 3, 2024; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers designated hitter Shohei Ohtani against the Colorado Rockies during a spring training game at Camelback Ranch-Glendale. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Last season, Roki Sasaki struck out 135 batters in 91.1 innings, posting a 1.78 ERA and dominating opposing hitters with ease when he’s healthy. The problem for the young right-hander has been getting through an entire season healthy, as he’s dealt with some injury issues in his career. It’s unclear where Roki Sasaki’s preferences lie, but given the track record of recent NPB signings, you’d assume that a West Coast team might have the edge.

The Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres are two teams heavily linked to Roki Sasaki, with AJ Preller even name-dropping him in a press conference earlier in March. Perhaps the Yankees have an inroad to this young superstar, but it’s unclear how his free agency would shake out for now.

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