Lee Jung-hoo Is Lonely
Shota Imanaga (30), a Japanese professional baseball player who throws a 155-kilometer horror fastball, will finally fall into the arms of the Major League Baseball.
Bob Nightingale, a reporter for USA Today, said on his SNS on the 10th, “The Chicago Cubs have signed a contract with Japanese left-hander Imanaga. The Cubs will conduct a medical test in Chicago before the contract with Imanaga becomes official.”
It has yet to be revealed what terms the Cubs and Imanaga agreed on. “Imanaga and the Cubs agreed to a multi-year contract and reportedly signed a contract worth an average of 15 million dollars per year,” said John Morosi of MLB Network.
Imanaga will hold a medical test in Chicago on the 11th, and the Cubs will hold a press conference on joining the team on the 13th if Imanaga passes the medical test.
Imanaga is trying to advance to the Major League through the posting system like Lee Jung-hoo. In November last year, Yokohama DeNA BayStars finally approved Imanaga’s posting, and the challenge began in earnest.
Imanaga, a former member of the Japanese national team, is in his ninth professional year this year as a player who has only played for the Yokohama DeNA BayStars in the Japanese professional baseball league. Imanaga, who joined Yokohama in 2015, pitched 135 ⅓ in 22 games in 2016, making a soft landing on the professional stage with 8-9 and a 2.93 ERA, and continued his outstanding pitching with 11 wins, 7 losses and a 2.98 ERA in 24 games in 2017.
In 2018, Imanaga, who threw only 84 ⅔ in 23 games and was sluggish with 4 wins, 11 losses and 4 holds with a 6.80 ERA, succeeded in a brilliant revival as he pitched 170 innings in 25 games in 2019 with 13 wins, 7 losses and a 2.91 ERA. Imanaga, who had only 5 wins, 3 losses and a 3.23 ERA in 9 games in the aftermath of left shoulder surgery in 2020, left him with 5 wins, 5 losses and a 3.08 ERA in 120 innings in 19 games in 2021, and in 2022, he played 143 ⅔ in 21 games, boasting 11 wins, 4 losses and a 2.26 ERA. In particular, Imanaga, who achieved a no-hitter against the Nippon Ham Fighters on June 7, 2022, recorded a no-hitter for the first time in 52 years in the team’s history.
Imanaga played remarkably well last year as well. Imanaga pitched 148 innings in 22 games and posted an outstanding record of seven wins, four losses and a 2.80 ERA. Above all, he struck out 174 to rank first in the Central League. Imanaga’s overall record in the Japanese pro baseball was 64 wins, 50 losses and four holds with an ERA of 3.18 in 1,002 ⅔s in 165 games.
Above all, Imana’s stellar performance on the international stage is one of the reasons that she was able to attract attention from Major League Baseball teams. She made a strong impression by displaying fastballs with speeds of up to 155 kilometers at the World Baseball Classic held in March last year.
Imana played as a relief pitcher against Korea in the first round of the World Baseball Organization (WBC) last year. Taking the mound after starting pitcher Darvish Yu, Imana successfully stopped the Korean batter’s box by allowing three hits, no walks, and one run in three innings by banking on his fastball with a maximum speed of 96.2 miles (155 kilometers). Although he got a solo shot from Park, it did not affect his performance. The game ended with Japan’s landslide 13-4 victory.
Japan advanced to the finals and met the U.S. in the finals. Imanaga took the heavy responsibility of the starting pitcher in the finals. Imanaga played the same role as the so-called “opener,” but he led the seesaw game by allowing four hits and one run in two innings. The only run he got was a solo homerun from Trey Turner. In the end, Japan won the game 3-2, and took the long-awaited victory.
Imanaga successfully built her career on the Japanese pro baseball stage and gained recognition on the international stage as well, boosting her stock price. Last year, the U.S. sports magazine Sports Illustrated ranked Imanaga 13th in the FA rankings, saying, “Imanaga is a player who boasts command and strong breaking balls while also overwhelming fastballs. Expectations are high as a starting resource that can be placed somewhere in the middle of the starting rotation.”
ESPN, a U.S. sports media outlet, also reported in December last year that “major league teams hope to sign a similar level of contract to Senga Kodaly, who signed a five-year, $75 million contract with the New York Mets, but sources predicted that Imanaga could win a contract close to $100 million,” revealing that Imanaga’s ransom is going through the roof. Since then, rumors of a $100 million contract began to surface over Imanaga.
Imanaga, whose stock price has soared as an FA player to pay attention to in the Major League FA market, drew attention to whether he met with “genius hitter” Lee Jung-hoo the previous day (9th) as rumors spread that “a contract with the San Francisco Giants is likely.”
The official Major League Baseball website (MLB.com ) said on the 9th, “The San Francisco Giants, the Chicago Cubs, the Boston Red Sox, and the Los Angeles Angels are considered Imanaga’s destination, and among them, San Francisco will emerge as a leading destination,” adding, “All the circumstances point to San Francisco.” San Francisco missed Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto. Although Imanaga is not a player of the same level as Ohtani and Yamamoto mentioned earlier, San Francisco will never want to miss Imanaga,” predicting that San Francisco will “all-in” to recruit Imanaga.
The reality was different, however. After not making any notable moves this winter, the Cubs actively rushed to win the hearts of Imanaga and finally captured the hearts of Imanaga. Announcing the contract between Imanaga and the Cubs, MLB predicted that the Cubs had a quiet winter except for hiring Craig Counsell, but finally hired Imanaga. Imanaga will be at the forefront of the starting rotation.
Currently, starting rotations for the Cubs include Kyle Hendrix, Justin Steele, and Jameson Tyronn. Marcus Stroman, who was a member of the starting pitching staff for the Cubs last season, is still available in the FA market. With the signing of Imanaga, chances of his reunion with Stroman have been even lower.
The MLB Trade Rumors (MLBTR), which showed interest in the news of Imanaga’s contract on the day, also noted that it was the Cubs’ first FA recruitment this off-season, adding that he was one of the most interesting pitchers in the FA market. For the Cubs, it is a big recruitment.” MLBTR is a media outlet that expected a five-year, 85 million U.S. dollars for Imanaga’s contract.
MLBTR pointed out that Imanaga is a pitcher with a lot of strikeouts and few walks, but he also allows a lot of long balls. “In Imanaga’s record, the biggest attention was slugging. Imanaga had 17 home runs last season, which was the second-highest number among Japanese professional baseball pitchers,” MLBTR said. “The Yankees lost interest due to concerns that Imanaga would not be able to take advantage of his strengths in a batter-friendly stadium. The Cubs’ Wrigley Field is considered to be a little favorable for home runs, but that does not mean that it is a top-ranked batter-friendly stadium.” Japanese outfielder Seiya Suzuki is also playing for the Cubs, which is expected to make it easier for Imanaga to adapt quickly. 토토사이트 추천
As Imanaga eventually joined hands with the Cubs, San Francisco found its bitter taste once again. San Francisco, which signed a six-year, $113 million contract with Lee Jung-hoo this offseason and successfully acquired left-hander Robbie Ray from Cy Young through trade, aggressively rushed to recruit Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto, but both of them had to be frustrated by signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and again had to watch Imanaga head to the Cubs.
San Francisco, which still has tasks to reinforce its power, such as starting pitchers and third basemen, is seeking various measures, including trade with the FA market, but it is frustrating as it has rarely made its power reinforcement a reality. It adds to the question of when a player who will lead the new era of San Francisco with “Korean genius hitter” Lee Jung-hoo can join.