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FUKUOKA, JAPAN - MARCH 01: Pitcher Tomoyuki Sugano #11 of Japan reacts after the top of the second inning during the SAMURAI JAPAN Send-off Friendly Match between CPBL Selected Team and Japan at the Yafuoku Dome on March 1, 2017 in Fukuoka, Japan. (Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images)

By Alex Barth, 985TheSportsHub.com

Add another name to the list of ‘close-but-not-quite’ Red Sox free agent pursuits this winter. According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, Japanese starting pitcher Tomoyuki Sugano failed to reach a deal with any MLB teams during his posting window, and will return to Japan for the 2021 season.

The Red Sox were reportedly interested in Sugano from the beginning of the process back in late November. He was posted on December 8, with teams having 30 days to negotiation with his representatives. That window came to a close on Thursday.

Sugano would have represented an immediate, cost effective way for the Red Sox to rebuild their rotation. Many analysts called him the ‘second-best free agent arm’ after reigning NL Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer. At the same time, his expected contract was thought to be around half the value of what Bauer will eventually receive.

However, this wasn’t a case of the Red Sox being outbid. “He had a clear idea of his value,” Passan reported. “No major league team stepped up.” It appears none of the 30 MLB teams were willing to pay the two-time NPB Central League MVP enough to come pitch in the US.

Sugano will now revert to his NPB team, the Yomiuri Giants, for the 2021 season. He’ll be eligible to re-enter the MLB market again next offseason.

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Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at Alexander.Barth@bbgi.com.