During the MLB offseason, New York Yankees rumors regarding who the team could add may point to a man known as the “Babe Ruth of Japan.” Shohei Otani is a highly-coveted baseball prospect and one that New York will certainly have an interest in. A lot of other MLB teams will be hoping for Otani to join their roster as well. If he decides to come to MLB, he’d easily become the biggest free agent this winter, ahead of stars like Yu Darvish and J.D. Martinez. Here’s the latest on Shohei Otani’s situation and what he could bring to the table for the New York Yankees.
As ESPN reported on Friday morning, the Yankees’ offseason is expected to seem quiet to fans but could include a few big moves. That could mean a couple of MLB trades in addition to adding a new manager. If that’s not enough, the ongoing rumors of Shohei Otani’s eventual arrival to the United States to play Major League Baseball continue to circulate. The Yankees are definitely a team that has been known for bringing Japanese prospects in and would love to have Otani as part of their rotation and/or lineup.
That’s because he’s known as the Babe Ruth of Japan. The 23-year-old prospect offers whichever team gets him a dual-purpose star. He’s not only a pitching sensation but also a talented batter. As a No. 1 pick in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) league’s draft, Otani has been playing for the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters ever since 2013. CBS Sports indicates that Otani’s stats over the past five seasons are .286/.358/.500 at the plate with a 2.52 ERA on the mound and 624 strikeouts in 543 innings.
Oman’s current team in Japan recently “posted” him, which makes him eligible so that MLB teams can bid for the right to negotiate with him for a 30-day period. The posting fee can be a bid as much as $20 million. For comparison’s sake, the Yankees paid a $20 million posting fee to the Rakuten club back when they were negotiating a contract to bring Masahiro Tanaka over. Tanaka signed a $155 million contract with New York.
Thanks to the new collective bargaining agreement rules in baseball, Otani wouldn’t be able to receive a huge contract if he joins MLB this offseason. However, it’s been said that Otani wants to “make the leap” to MLB despite the small payout at the start of his career in the United States. As ESPN notes in their report, that gives the Yankees “as good a chance as anyone to land him.” A few other teams are considered in the running depending on when the Japanese superstar makes his decision.
If he chooses to head to the MLB, it’s possible the new CBA rules would limit Otani to a very small “international bonus payment” to start with. That’s because he’s a foreign player under the age of 25 and could only receive less than $4 million for that bonus payment. Then, a few years later, he and his agent could negotiate the much bigger MLB contract that he’s deserving of already. It’s mentioned by CBS Sports that three teams really have the best chance of signing him, and they are the Texas Rangers, Minnesota Twins, and New York Yankees.
It’s noted that if the New York Yankees are able to add Shohei Otani to their roster, he could become a sixth starter in the pitching rotation in addition to playing some outfield or designated hitter as needed. Imagine adding a superstar of Otani’s stature to an already young and talented Yankees team that nearly reached the World Series this postseason?
[Featured Image by Toru Takahashi/AP Images]