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This winter’s free agent class is already loaded with talent, and there could be one more intriguing player added into the mix. Right-hander Robert Suarez, the closer for the Hanshin Tigers, has a player option for 2022, according to an article from Yahoo! Japan relayed by Sung Min Kim, who has written for both FanGraphs and The Athletic. If Suarez were to decline it, the Venezuelan would become a free agent and would be able to sign with any team, either in Japan or elsewhere.

Suarez, who turns 31 in March, could garner plenty of interest around the baseball world based on his recent track record. He’s been playing in Nippon Professional Baseball since 2016 but has taken his game to another level over the past couple seasons. In 2020, he threw 52 1/3 innings with an ERA of 2.24, racking up 25 saves in the process. His strikeout rate was 24% and his walk rate was 9.1%. In 2021, he elevated his game even further, notching 42 saves over 62 1/3 innings, with an ERA of 1.16, a strikeout rate of 25.3% and excellent walk rate of 3.5%.

It was recently reported that Thyago Vieira, also pitching in NPB, is garnering interest from MLB clubs based on his recent run of success, but his numbers are a notch below Suarez’s. Vieira has an ERA of 3.04 over the past couple seasons, with a 26.9% strikeout rate and elevated 12.4% walk rate. Vieira does have an age advantage over Suarez, however, as he won’t turn 29 until July 1st, meaning Suarez is a little more than two years older. But it stands to reason that Suarez could attract as much interest as Vieira, if not more.

There are lots of high-leverage righty options available in free agency this offseason, from Raisel Iglesias to Kenley Jansen, Kendall Graveman, Ryan Tepera, Collin McHugh and many more. But there’s potential for some other interesting options on the other side of the Pacific.

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(this story/news/article has not been edited by PostX News staff and is published from a syndicated feed)

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