Shohei Otani intends to pursue a career in MLB, but that won’t stop a Japanese team from selecting him in the upcoming amateur draft for NPB teams. Masao Yamada, the general manager for the Nippon Ham Fighters, said he intends to select the highly-regarded 18-year-old with the first overall selection in the upcoming draft, according to a Sanspo report passed along by Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker.
If an NPB team drafts Otani, he would be prevented from signing with an MLB team for several months. The drafting team would have the rights to the right-hander until the end of March, 2013 under an agreement between MLB and NPB. If he declines to sign with an NPB team, MLB teams will be able to bid on his as a free agent. Teams will be subject to international spending restrictions, but as Jim Callis of Baseball America explained this week, those restrictions won’t necessarily be a major deterrent.
The Red Sox, Rangers and Dodgers appear to have some interest in Otani. The Angels don’t seem interested.