Cardinals among 5 teams to scout Roki Sasaki's recent record-setting start

The Cardinals' recruitment of top NPB starter Roki Sasaki has begun. But they'll have heavy competition to land him.
Samurai Japan Training Session
Samurai Japan Training Session / Gene Wang/GettyImages

Roki Sasaki rumors are once again surrounding the St. Louis Cardinals as they were among five teams to scout his latest start. Though he wasn't at his best, he still allowed just 2 runs across 7 innings giving up 3 hits, 3 walks, and striking out 9 batters. Some poor defense and weak contact hits made his final line appear worse. Sasaki threw 111 pitches in his start, which was the most he had ever thrown in his young NPB career, as representatives from the Cardinals, Reds, Cubs, Rangers, and Dodgers were all in attendance.

Unlike Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Sasaki will command much less of a price tag, as he'd be treated as an amateur International free agent if he is posted this offseason. All 30 MLB teams will have the financial means to land Sasaki, but ultimately the decision is up to him. While it's been rumored that Sasaki has already made the decision to join his WBC teammates Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto in Los Angeles next year, none of that is confirmed and the Cardinals certainly have a real shot at landing him.

For the Cardinals to be present for another one of Sasaki's starts is a great sign that they're serious about landing the 22-year-old for next season. He's certainly not a finished product yet, and he still has more development to finish, but Roki Sasaki is about as "can't miss" of a pitching prospect as there's ever been. His electric velocity and wicked splitter give him the potential to become among the best pitchers in the entire world. While he's dealt with injuries the past year, none of them were arm injuries which is an encouraging sign.

The Cardinals need to do whatever it takes to convince Sasaki to sign in St. Louis. If Sasaki is at all interested in joining the Cardinals, the team needs to show him why this is the right team for him. Whether it be revamping the pitching development under the guidance of Chaim Bloom, a Lars Nootbaar recruitment campaign, or building a truly championship-caliber roster around him, acquiring such a young talent at this affordable price is a once-in-a-lifetime event.