Chiba Lotte’s ace Rōki Sasaki has asked to be posted

Photo credit:AP - Eugene Hoshiko
Brennan Delaney
2 months ago
Another Japanese ace may hit the market.
This article isn’t about Shohei Ohtani (who just signed an insane $700 million deal with the Dodgers), or about Yoshinobu Yamamoto, who may sign a deal upwards of $300 million. No, this is about an even younger Japanese pitcher, Rōki Sasaki.
According to this Yahoo! Japan article that I’ll be honest, I had to translate, Sasaki has asked to be posted from Chiba Lotte Marines from Nippon Professional Baseball. However, there’s a slim possibility that it’ll be accepted.
The posting agreement is complicated, to say the least. Overseas teams from Korea and Japan get 20% of the first $25 million, 17.5% of the next $25 million, and 15% of any amount above $50 million. It’s quite confusing, to put it simply, but it gets even worse.
However, since Sasaki is under 25 years old, he’d be treated like an international free agent and would have to be signed to a minor league deal. Hypothetically, a team that signs Sasaki would be pulling from an already limited signing bonus pool, which sits anywhere from $4 million to $6.5 million depending on the team.
Interestingly, Ohtani is an example of this, as he was 23 years old when he was posted. The $700 million-dollar-man was originally signed to a minimum deal (worth $545,000 at the time) with a $2,315,000 signing bonus. Unlike other posted players, when a player signs to a minor league deal, the team gets 25% of the bonus.
The reason why Ohtani was posted is because he had an option to head to the majors whenever he wanted. Interestingly, this LATimes article believes that Sasaki may have the same clause, so he actually may hit free agency sooner rather than later.
This begs the question: Is he worth the hype? Long story short, yes. The then 21-year-old dominated NPB, posting a 1.78 ERA in 91 innings pitched before an oblique injury ended his season in late-July. On top of the very impressive ERA, he also had a crazy 39.1 K% and a 4.9 BB%.
Sasaki has dominated in his three-year NPB career, posting a 1.90 ERA in 303.2 innings pitched, along with a 33.8 K% and a 5.1 BB%. In early 2022, Sasaki pitched the first NPB perfect game since 1994, where had 19 strikeouts. So yeah, this dude is coming, and he has a chance at being one of the best.
A large part of this is due to his 80-grade fastball that has touched 102 mph and averages in the upper 90s (and 100.5 mph in the semifinals of the World Baseball Classic). Somehow, that’s not even his best pitch according to the MLB.com article, as his wipeout splitter is his go-to for the numerous strikeouts he gets.
So yeah, the 22-year-old is already elite, wants to be in the big leagues, and could get even better. It’d be a shame if Chiba Lotte doesn’t post him until after the 2026 season, because Sasaki could already be an ace for the Jays.
Let’s hope he gets to the big leagues sooner rather than later.

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