Baseball: Giants' Sugano eligible for international free agency

© Kyodo News

Yomiuri Giants star pitcher Tomoyuki Sugano became eligible for unrestricted international free agency on Monday after completing nine seasons of service time in Nippon Professional Baseball.

The 32-year-old right-hander can now pursue an opportunity with any major league team without being subject to the posting system. Last year he needed permission from his team when attempting to move to the majors through the posting system.

He re-signed with Yomiuri on a one-year contract in January after failing to come to an agreement with an MLB team by his posting deadline, despite the Tokyo-based team giving him clearance to move to the United States.

"Frankly I'm happy," Sugano said in a statement.

"It gives me encouragement to continue my baseball career and makes me want to improve myself even more," he said.

In a 2021 season marred by injury, the two-time Central League MVP has gone 5-7 with a 3.30 ERA in 17 starts.

Sugano won back-to-back Eiji Sawamura awards in 2017 and 2018 as the league's top pitcher. He is 106-56 with a 2.39 ERA in 213 games over his career.