Japanese star Shōta Imanaga signs with Chicago Cubs

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Shōta Imanaga has signed with the Chicago Cubs, per USA Today.

Imanaga, dubbed the “Throwing Philosopher,” spent the past eight seasons in Nippon Professional Baseball with the Yokohama DeNA BayStars.

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He was selected by the BayStars in the first round of the 2015 NPB draft and sports a career 2.96 ERA and 3.93 K/BB ratio. The 5-foot-10 lefty’s career record is 64-10. He’s a two-time All-Star in the NPB, was the Central League’s strikeout champion last season, and pitched a no-hitter on June 7, 2022.  He also started for Japan in 2023 World Baseball Classic championship, which the squad won 3-2.

Imanaga projects as a mid-rotation starter. FOX Sports’ Jordan Shusterman wrote this about Imanaga, who ranked 24th in his MLB free-agency rankings:

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He’s no Yamamoto, but Imanaga followed up an excellent showing in the World Baseball Classic with an outstanding campaign in NPB. He posted a career-high 29.2% strikeout rate that ranked tops among all qualified starters — yes, even ahead of Yamamoto, who was second at 26.6%. Imanaga attacks with a low-90s heater, two different breaking balls, and, of course, a nasty splitter — and his entire arsenal plays up due to plus command. He’s an exciting option for teams seeking left-handed starting pitching that might not want to mess around in the Snell/Montgomery level of the market.

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