Shohei Otani continues to inch closer toward his goal of becoming a major-leaguer in 2018.
On Friday, Otani’s Japanese club, the Nippon Ham Fighters, announced that it plans to make the 23-year-old, two-way star available to MLB teams this offseason via a posting system, according to Japanese media reports.
This comes two days after commissioner Rob Manfred said he felt confident that some sort of posting agreement would be reached between MLB and Nippon Professional Baseball that would allow players to come over from Japan.
The MLB Players Association also has to sign off. Nothing is done yet, but these recent developments are at least encouraging.
It is no secret that the Yankees are among several teams that will pursue Otani if he is made available as expected. The Bombers can give him the second-largest signing bonus of any club: $ 3.25 million.
Otani, however, isn’t out for money. If he was, he’d wait until he turned 25, when there would be no cap on how much he could make per year.
Shohei Otani will be targeted by the Yankees when he becomes available.
The Yankees have a need for a starting pitcher, and have plenty of at-bats available at DH.
They might be more reticent about the idea if they were giving Otani a massive deal in the $ 200-300 million range. But for this price — and with what will be essentially a college recruiting process to land his services — it makes perfect sense to allow him to both pitch and hit on a regular basis.
Essentially, the risk, because of money, is minimal. And the Yankees want to get under the $ 197 million luxury-tax threshold for 2018, which makes Otani even more of a perfect fit.
The Bombers have had previous success in landing the likes of Hideki Matsui and Masahiro Tanaka, who could both be helpful in recruiting Otani as well.
Otani has hit 100 mph with his fastball in Japan. This past season, he was limited due to injuries to his ankle and thigh. In 65 games at the plate, he posted a .942 OPS. In five starts on the mound, he posted a 3.20 ERA. He underwent ankle surgery in October.
He has been dubbed the Babe Ruth of Japan for his two-way prowess. It would only seem to make sense, then, that he takes his talents to the Bronx. But there will certainly be other suitors for his services, should he be posted and become available to play in 2018.