Shohei Otani Deciding Between Japan, MLB

OCTOBER 19TH: Otani is set to decide between playing in MLB and staying in Japan on Monday, according to a report from Sanspo (Japanese link) passed along by Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker (via Twitter).

OCTOBER 11TH: High school pitcher Shohei Otani, 18, is being courted by every NPB team and at least three Major League teams, reports's Alex Speier.  The Red Sox, Dodgers and Rangers have all sent representatives to Japan to meet with Otani, and Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News notes that the Orioles also have interest in the right-hander.

Despite his young age, Otani is already 6'4" and 190 pounds and owns a fastball that has been clocked in the 99-100 mph range.  MLB teams wouldn't have to pay a posting fee to sign Otani as he isn't contracted to any Japanese pro team. 

87 Responses to Shohei Otani Deciding Between Japan, MLB Leave a Reply

  1. baseball52 3 years ago

    Ooo, looks neat.

  2. LiveFastCyYoung 3 years ago

    Isn’t this sort of against unspoken rules for MLB teams to go after Japanese talent like this? Isn’t this what happened with Baltimore, albeit with a Korean player?

    • mstrchef 3 years ago

      I don’t think so. In the Korea case, their biggest issue was that the O’s didn’t let KPB know they were courting him, and that he was “underage” even though he was a high school senior.

      It’s nice to see that signing Chen has had the bigger impact on the organization beyond his success on the field. We also had success with Koji, and Wada was a successful player in Japan as well despite his injury and not pitching in 2012. Hopefully we can start competing in that market as well.

      • Lefty_Orioles_Fan
        Lefty_Orioles_Fan 3 years ago

        The Orioles are going to have to spend Chef. Despite rumored interest in Cespedes and my rumor of Aoki. Angelos doesn’t want to cough up the coin to pay the posting fee. As for the other competitors, the Dodgers have to be cashed strapped, as well as the Rangers. The Red Sox got rid of a lot of salary with the Dodger trade. Chances are good in the early morning line (odds) for the Red Sox.
        As for the here and now, I want the O’s to win tonight! Don’t really care about anything else for now.

        • mstrchef 3 years ago

          This is different, though. He’s not under NPL contract, so there is no posting fee. This is one that Angelos might let DD have some coin.

      • johnsilver 3 years ago

        The O’s biggest issue in Korea that got them into trouble was targeting athletes before they graduated from HS and nearly got ALL of their scouts banned from the country.. Nothing else..

        Some countries (Pacific Rim IFA) actually place a higher priority on an education than some busco getting some kid to run 60yd dashes and hit BP who cannot even read and write…

    • jlasovage 3 years ago

      Yeah thought mlb wasnt supposed to go after Japanese amateur players.but it is interesting thought
      100 @ 18 yrs old.

    • RobertGKramer 3 years ago

      You’re remembering the ill feeling in Japan when the Red Sox signed Junichi Tazawa!

  3. vtadave 3 years ago

    Shohei Otani is loosely translated as “Sidd Finch”. 100 mph at age 18?

    • mstrchef 3 years ago

      Dylan Bundy. It happens.

      • WisBrave 3 years ago

        Brian Taylor. It happens.

        • mstrchef 3 years ago

          Taylor threw very hard right up until he was in that car accident.

          • not_brooks 3 years ago

            What car accident?

            Taylor destroyed his shoulder in a bar fight.

          • mstrchef 3 years ago

            Then apparently I didn’t recall correctly.

  4. jondogg2010 3 years ago

    Let’s go Red Sox, get this done!

  5. East Coast Bias 3 years ago

    My money’s on the Dodgers.

    • ieblue 3 years ago

      It wouldn’t surprise me. The new management has shown that they are willing to go out and be competitive in signing international prospects unlike McCourt.

    • BlueSkyLA
      BlueSkyLA 3 years ago

      Some additional tidbits: The Dodgers sent Logan White to talk with Otani and his family and tried to sell him on the Dodgers’ track record signing players from Japan. The Rangers sent Jim Colborn, who used to be the pitching coach and scout for the Dodgers, and who speaks Japanese (and was responsible for some of the Dodgers success with signing players from Japan). Also, if Otani skips the NPB draft he forfeits eligibility for the Japanese baseball draft for three years. Big decisions for a very young man. If he does decide to come here, I’d give an edge to the Rangers.

  6. dc21892 3 years ago

    Boston better keep their interest in him. That could be a serious arm to add to the system.

    • johnsilver 3 years ago

      They have 19YO Frank Montas throwing 100mph and he has -0- clue which direction (pretty much) the ball is even going after he throws it.

      Just because some of the 18-19YO kids have 1 pitch, a 98-100mph fb that they can’t control does not make them really good prospects, unless everything about how they approach the game can be torn down, rebuilt and that velocity maintained and then add at least 1 workable off speed pitch to the mix.

  7. Leonard Washington 3 years ago

    Boston. Done.

  8. Then years later we’ll find out by age 18 he’s logged five 200+ innings seasons with injury problems galore.

  9. MadmanTX 3 years ago

    He ‘ll undoubtedly want to follow his hero Yu Darvish and play for the Rangers. All other teams need not apply.

    • $17867741 3 years ago

      Dodgers and Hideo Nomo or Hiroki Kuroda?

      • lakersdodgersyankees4life 3 years ago

        And Ishii.

        • Ken Chia-Hung Wu 3 years ago

          Don’t forget about Saito as well

          • lakersdodgersyankees4life 3 years ago

            I was gonna add Saito after but didn’t want to edit my post haha. Good call

          • BlueSkyLA
            BlueSkyLA 3 years ago

            Maybe so, and that is the sales pitch (so to speak) that the Dodgers will use. But none of these players are around anymore, some of them pitched before Otani was even born, and for a young man from Japan it will probably be important for him to have someone he can talk to other than his translator. That’s why I give an edge to the Rangers.

          • lakersdodgersyankees4life 3 years ago

            Thats no doubt part of the Rangers pitch. At the same time, the Dodgers will more than likely say they have developed all these guys into top MLB players and they have had nice careers either in LA or elsewhere. It’ll be interesting, no doubt

            One more thing: remember, He isnt going to start in the majors. So while Darvish can talk to him, he isnt going to be rooming with him or something

          • Gumby65 3 years ago

            But these guys are legends in Japan, most notably Nomo

          • BlueSkyLA
            BlueSkyLA 3 years ago

            I get that, but I imagine the homesick and culture shock factors would loom large. He’s just a teenager, and evidently has never been out of Japan. By the same token, LA has a large Japanese population. I think that’s one of the reasons Kuroda felt comfortable here.

    • NYPOTENCE 3 years ago

      Rangers can stay home and just watch other teams play playoff ball

      • oz10 3 years ago

        and now you can join us with just as great of a collapse, just on a bigger stage.

        • NYPOTENCE 3 years ago

          Collapse? What losing to a team that just happened to beat the Oakland Athletics and JUST happened to represent the American league in the World Series? No that is not called a collapse that is simply called losing to the better team. You want to know what is a collapse? The Rangers losing their vast lead in the division and then being forced into submission by the Orioles.

          • oz10 3 years ago

            Red Sox. Down 0-3. All I need to say. Most wins in the AL this year, get swept. This is where you mention all your rings. It is the yank comeback to everything.

          • NYPOTENCE 3 years ago

            Yeah, except you weren’t referring to that collapse at first. Your first comment implies that you are referring to the Yankee-Detroit series which was not a collapse at all the Yankees simply lost to the team which was playing better at the time. As for collapses let’s not forget that your Rangers were one out away from winning the World series…TWICE and they still can’t get it done.

      • TXHC 3 years ago


  10. This kid wont sign with any MLB, he wont leave his family at such age. Remember that even for 25-30yrs old have admitted is a difficult culture for them.

    • strikethree 3 years ago

      A couple of mil might get him to change his mind. It’s what gets international players here in the first place: money.

      It would certainly get me more inclined to go. It’s not like you’re going to an underdeveloped country. At that age, it’ll be like moving out of home for college. Plus, you’re more inclined to move and travel when you’re young.

      In the end, they’re doing it for their families because they would make so much more here.

      • $21621694 3 years ago

        I wouldn’t call transitioning from the japanese culture to the american culture “like moving out of home for college”

    • Morley C 3 years ago

      Tell it to the thousands of Japanese students studying abroad.

  11. BK 3 years ago

    Unlikely Predication: Angels spend their first international dollar in three years on this guy.

    • JacobyWanKenobi 3 years ago

      It wasn’t stated, but the Angels and Orioles also scouted him and had reps travel to meet with him. Heck, this may be worth the risk for a few teams if there’s no posting fee.

      • $17867741 3 years ago

        Also consider this part:

        “Every team will have $2.9MM to spend on international bonuses this offseason, according to Yahoo’s Jeff Passan.
        Eventually the limits will be in the $1.8-5MM range, according to
        Passan. Starting in 2013-14, teams will be able to trade money from
        their spending allowance for international players, according to Passan (all Twitter links). However, teams can only boost their original spending limit by 50% through trades. ”

        link to

        *Since Otani is not signed to an NPB team, he does not go through the posting system, BUT he counts towards international bonuses.

    • $21621694 3 years ago

      No shot

  12. Dynasty22 3 years ago

    Cashman…where are you at?

  13. If he throws that hard and has that type of body at 18, I can’t believe that EVERY team isn’t after him. You’d be moronic not to be.

    • $17867741 3 years ago

      Depends on how much you are willing to pay. Since Otani is not signed to a NPB team, he does not go through the posting system, but he falls under the new international spending rules.

      It might suck for MLB if he signs with an NPB team, BUT that would be good for Japanese baseball.

      • $21621694 3 years ago

        Right… doesn’t mean that not every team wants him. Is just that some teams prefer not to spend millions on one amateur player and simply step out of the ring

  14. MLB_in_the_Know 3 years ago

    It’s interesting because every team has a $3 million international signings cap for the year. Maybe some team will use their entire budget on him if he is that good.

    • lakersdodgersyankees4life 3 years ago

      There is some rule that not all guys apply to that pool. I’m not sure exactly what it is, but he may not be part of it

      • melonis_rex 3 years ago

        Correct me if I’m wrong, but the pool doesn’t apply to guys who are pitching in NPB and it doesn’t affect the posting system in Japan (so the Yu Darvish posting and contract can happen under the new CBA).

        Otani’s an amateur so the pool should apply there.

        It might make financial sense for Otani to pitch in NPB for a few years and then venture into MLB when he’s no longer subject to the IFA signings cap, considering that he’d probably have to spend time in the minors before pitching in the MLB.

        • lakersdodgersyankees4life 3 years ago

          After asking around, yes you are correct it seems. It could make sense for him to pitch, but that does eventually require teams to post him, something they may do at their pace, not his

  15. withpower 3 years ago

    Personally, I don’t like it. The unwritten agreement exists for a reason.

    • sarcasm_robot 3 years ago

      what are you a wise-guy or something? geeet outta heeere

  16. carlos 3 years ago

    So let me understand this. No posting fee so its based on that new rule where teams top out at 3 million. so this is going to be about persuasion not money?

  17. OldStyle_NewCubs 3 years ago

    I’m surprised to not see the Cubs on the list. They’re looking for “waves” of pitching talent and “power arms.” This sounds like something they’d be all over. That said, I’m surprised there weren’t three teams mentioned that were NOT in on the kid.

  18. Karkat 3 years ago

    Yeesh, what a decision at 18 o.o

    I’d say he should come to Boston, but come on, that’s just not happening.

  19. TheOnlyBravesFan 3 years ago

    Wish Atlanta would go after him… we could use another good pitching prospect, especially a power arm.

  20. cant believe astros not in on this. kinda disappointing for a fan

  21. Jose Villasano 3 years ago

    come to the Dodgers please

  22. Jay 3 years ago

    I wish my Mets would show interest but all they do is sign players with high character these days

  23. dieharddodgerfan 3 years ago

    If the Dodgers get Otani, that would be awesome! Dodgers would really be starting to stockpile some impressive international arms: Julio Arias from Mexico, Cuban Onelkis Garcia and then Otani.

    I would give Kasten HUGE props if he can get all those arms. All power arms with some high ceilings.

    • redlake 3 years ago

      I totally agree.In terms of money if he looks at the future he will see the potential of growth in earnings with the Dodgers. Yes it would be awesome AND consistent with new ownerships stated goals.

  24. Marktown 3 years ago

    Here we go Rangers, here we go!! (clap, clap)

  25. NYPOTENCE 3 years ago

    Impressive stuff but as we’ve seen in the past sometimes some of these foreign players have trouble adjusting to the new culture and increased talent level which makes it that much more difficult of a transition.

  26. SierraM363 3 years ago

    Red Sox have had better lucky with these young, low cost Japanese pitchers. Tazawa was our best pitcher this year.

  27. Bob Bunker 3 years ago

    I would imagine if this 18 year old can throw 100 then every MLB team would be interested unless there is something being left out there. Still if it isn’t for a lot of money i would like the red sox to give him a contract

  28. optionn 3 years ago

    He is coming to MLB. Way too much cash to pass up.

  29. theophilus166 3 years ago

    This is definitely a unique situation simply because of his age. He’s not going to come over and pitch in the majors for a few years. It’s not like Dice-K or Darvish. Even without a posting fee, it will be interesting to see what teams are willing to pay for a kid who will be in the minors for awhile. The Dodgers already showed they’re willing to pay big money (Puig 7/42 million) for someone who can’t contribute for awhile.

  30. lakersdodgersyankees4life 3 years ago

    The giants paid Barry Zito more than the Dodgers paid any player this year. More than Kemp, Gonzalez, Hanley, Kershaw or Andre.

    Matt Cain just signed a giant contract and Lincecum was paid 18 million for his sparkling 5 ERA. You obviously know very little about how much the Giants paid for anything

  31. Am talking about free agent signings, or taking big salary players in trades. Cain and Lincecum were extensions, I wont count them, if a team wants to succeed obviously they will need to spend some money. Thats why I was referring to the dodgers $260M trade with Red Sox that lead to nowhere this year. and giants payroll is nowhere close to dodgers.

    Btw, Zito signing was done about 5years ago.

  32. lakersdodgersyankees4life 3 years ago

    “without having to spend big money.”… “if a team wants to succeed obviously they will need to spend some money”- at least you stay consistent…

    …So you’re referring to the part of the Giants payroll that makes your argument stronger and ignoring the parts that make you look like you don’t what you’re talking about? Shocker.

    The fact with the big trade is there is no way to get an impact bat like Adrian Gonzalez anymore. Fielder, Albert, and Votto are all off the market- and over paid. Gonzalez is signed long term for less money than any of them. Beckett is our #3 starter and is paid market value. Crawford is a former all star who has a chance to be healthy and productive for the first time in 2 years.

    And who cares when the signing was done. You signed him long term, big money. Just like you said you were talking about at the start of your second post. So, in conclusion, you are a homer who has no idea what they are talking about other than being a Giants fan and Dodger basher.

  33. Am no homer nor a dodger basher, am just saying that spending huge amount of money doesnt mean your gonna win and I think you would agree on that, the giants and other teams (Cardinals, Nationals, Rangers, Tigers) are showing how its supposed to be done. You can have 2-3 $20m guys but if the others earn average money $5-$10m your payroll will never be as high as the dodgers(starting from next year) or the yankees. Also the only player the Giants have signed for the next 6-7yrs on their roster is Cain, on the other hand the dodgers have about 3 players, whats gonna happened when they all age at the same time? Look at Phillies.

    Two years ago, Boston did the same thing as the dodgers and look what has happened to them, the good part is that Cherington was smart enough to dump those contracts on the dodgers.

    With $260m the dodgers could have done way better.

  34. Am no homer nor a dodger basher. Just saying that money doesn’t equal success, and i think you would agree on that.

    Red Sox did the same thing as the dodgers 2yrs ago and look what happened, team didnt perform so as the players they signed.

    With $260m I think the dodgers could have done much better, dont you think?
    If Gonzalez keeps hitting the way hes done for the past 2yrs with no pop, i dont think hes an impact bat, also what made crawford valuable was his speed, and with him aging and along the injuries I dont think theres much hope he will become once again the All Star player he was, hes gonna be useful but no all-star.

  35. mark 3 years ago

    But they didn’t have a $260 million payroll all year. They had it for just two months and that’s without a guy taking up a lot of that $260m (Carl Crawford).

  36. lakersdodgersyankees4life 3 years ago

    And when they age? Well, one in LF, one in RF and one at 1B… all of their natural positions. Scary…

    and you say “dump the contracts”, but you fail to realize that Gonzalez deal is a complete steal for a player of his caliber. Look at Votto, Albert and Fielder for how long, and how much, 1B are paid. Also, having a pitcher locked up long term is much scarier than a hitter. Look at your long reliever, Tim Lincecum…

  37. lakersdodgersyankees4life 3 years ago

    we don’t have a 260M payroll. That number is how
    much is being paid to the 4 players acquired over the next 6 years!

  38. lakersdodgersyankees4life 3 years ago

    Dont know how many times it needs to be said… the kid is 18. He’s going to spend at least 2 or 3 years in the minors. He is the equivalent of a high school senior in the states. Darvish, Ichiro, Kuroda, etc all make no difference most likely

  39. Dynasty22 3 years ago

    Ichiro and Kuroda are both twice as old as him. I don’t think they are buddies just because they are both Japanese.

  40. lakersdodgersyankees4life 3 years ago

    For what, two weeks? He isn’t making the MLB team and he won’t stay in MLB training camp for a short amount of time, if any. Texas and NYY have not developed a Japanese player in a while. They have signed and traded for them, but not a full MiLB experience. It may be cool for the kid to meet them, but don’t think ichiro, darvish or kuroda are going to room with him or call every day

  41. BlueSkyLA
    BlueSkyLA 3 years ago

    You make a really good point here. Even if he was fast-tracked to the majors, he’s still have to spend a year, two or more playing in the sticks, where nobody speaks Japanese and you aren’t going to find good yakisoba anywhere. The Dodgers’ package seems to include a full-time translator so that could give them an edge, assuming the other teams are not so generous with the perks.

  42. BlueSkyLA
    BlueSkyLA 3 years ago

    The age difference wouldn’t matter as much as the language and cultural ties. But the point made above that he would not have many opportunities to interact with these MLB players while he was toiling away in the minors for years neutralizes this argument, more or less.

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