DeNA BayStars left-hander Shota Imanaga said Monday he is excited about the prospect of going head-to-head with superstar Samurai Japan teammate Shohei Ohtani should he secure a move to MLB through the posting system this offseason.
The 30-year-old starting pitcher, who has the green light from the Central League club to be posted, said his interest in American baseball was sparked following his initial call-up to the Japan national team in 2017.
"The desire grew every time I gained experience with Samurai Japan," Imanaga said at a press conference in Yokohama. "A team (in MLB) that sets no limit to my potential would be best."
Imanaga, believed to be drawing interest from several MLB clubs, started for Japan and was the winning pitcher in the final of this year's World Baseball Classic against the United States. He also helped his country win the 2019 Premier 12 tournament.
The Fukuoka Prefecture native said he looked forward to a first-time battle with Ohtani, who played for the Pacific League's Nippon Ham Fighters in Japan.
"I've never faced Ohtani, even during our time in Japan," Imanaga said. "He's a player who won the (MLB) home run title, and I want to pitch against players like that."
DeNA's first-round pick in the 2015 draft threw a no-hitter on June 7, 2022, against the Nippon Ham Fighters and has a 64-50 career record with a 3.18 ERA over eight seasons, all with the BayStars.
Imanaga, who led the CL with 174 strikeouts in 2023 while posting a 7-4 record with a 2.80 ERA in 22 games, also expressed gratitude that DeNA had indicated it would welcome him back once his time in the majors was over.
"I really feel sorry we couldn't win a title," he said of his time with the club. "I need to build records and a career that will make them want to contact me straight away when I find myself in that kind of situation in the future."