Frontrunner MLB Team Named For Next Japanese Superstar Pitcher Roki Sasaki

With Shohei Ohtani, Yoshinobu Yamamoto and Shota Imanaga being the most recent high-end Japanese starting pitchers to come to North America, and with the success they've had, you can bet that the stakes will be high for the next pitching superstar to come from the Far East, and Roki Sasaki may be the best one yet. 

All the 22-year-old phenom has done thus far is post a 1.87 ERA over his 3+ seasons with Chiba Lotte of the NPB with a 0.83 WHIP and 11.5 K/9. He pitched a perfect game in his first full season at the age of 20, with 19 strikeouts. He then fired eight perfect innings in his next start.

He has already indicated that he wants to come to MLB "sooner than later", and no doubt, the bidding for his services will be insane. 

The Los Angeles DodgersNew York Mets, and New York Yankees were among eight teams that scouted his opening day performance, in which he struck out seven and allowed one run on six hits and a walk in five innings. 

It may not surprise you to learn that, according to baseball insider Jon Heyman, the Los Angeles Dodgers are the front-runners for Sasaki when he does come over.  The Dodgers already have Ohtani and Yamamoto on board, having spent over a billion dollars on the two of them this past winter ($700 million contract for Ohtani, $325 million for Yamamoto). Sasaki would likely feel right at home. 

Perhaps the Chicago Cubs could be another option, as Japanese veteran Shota Imanaga signed with them this year, and has been off to a ridiculous start at 5-0 with a 0.78 ERA. They also have Japanese batting star Seiya Suzuki. 

Whenever Sasaki is posted, teams will be lining up around the block to get a shot at the young phenom. But all roads seem to lead through L.A.

Photo: © Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports