One of the top pitchers available on the MLB free-agent market is off the board.
Japanese ace Tomoyuki Sugano is returning to Nippon Professional Baseball for the 2021 season after failing to reach an agreement with an MLB team, according to ESPN's Jeff Passan.
Sugano has a career 101-49 record, 2.32 ERA and 1,214 strikeouts over his eight seasons with the NPB's Yomiuri Giants. He was even more dominant in 2020, posting a 14-2 record and 1.97 ERA with 131 strikeouts and 25 walks in 137.1 innings.
The 31-year-old was named Central League MVP in 2014 and 2020 and won back-to-back Sawamura Awards as the league's top starting pitcher in 2017 and '18.
Multiple MLB teams, including the Toronto Blue Jays, were reported to have interest in the right-hander but did not offer Sugano the contract he desired.
Sugano will reportedly have another opportunity to test the free-agent waters in North America next off-season, as his presumed deal with the Giants carries three opt-out clauses.