Shohei Otani, the Japanese pitching prospect who intends to pursue a career in MLB, appears to be an elite talent comparable to those selected in the top half of the first round of baseball’s amateur draft. The right-hander had been a potential first overall pick in Japan before he announced his intention to play for an MLB organization. And, according to Jim Callis of Baseball America, Dodgers assistant GM Logan White told Japanese reporters that Otani could go first overall if he were eligible for the MLB draft.
However, the 18-year-old free agent won’t be draft eligible. Otani will be subject to spending restrictions as an international amateur, which means teams will face consequences if they exceed the $2.9MM international bonus threshold to sign him. Teams will be taxed at a rate of 100% for exceeding the 2.9MM threshold by more than 15%. These clubs would also forfeit the right to spend more than $250K on an international player during the following year’s signing period.
Callis suggests these restrictions won’t be too much of a deterrent for interested MLB teams. Boston GM Ben Cherington confirmed today that the Red Sox met with Otani, Alex Speier of WEEI.com reports (on Twitter). The Red Sox and Rangers “have done the most work in this arena,” ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reported today. Meanwhile, the Angels aren’t expected to be heavily involved, Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com reports (on Twitter).