Shohei Otani Headed To MLB

Japanese pitching prospect Shohei Otani announced that he will pursue a career in MLB rather than turn professional in Japan, according to the Associated Press.  The Red Sox, Rangers, and Dodgers have all sent representatives to Japan to meet with Otani recently and the Orioles are also said to have interest in the right-hander.

"I think I will start in the minor leagues but I want to challenge in the majors. It's been my dream since entering high school," said the 18-year-old.

Otani, who stands at 6'4" and weighs 190 pounds, has a strong fastball that has been clocked in the 99-100 mph range.  If Otani signs with a major league club, he'll be the first potential top NPB draft pick to make the direct jump from high school in Japan to the U.S.

As a tall right-hander, many are quick to compare Otani to fellow Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish.  Otani boasts a similarly live arm with a little bit more velocity and a lot less polish than Darvish showed in high school, writes Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker.  In terms of build, Otani is slightly shorter than the 26-year-old hurler but is heavier than Darvish was at 18.

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74 Responses to Shohei Otani Headed To MLB Leave a Reply

  1. SumatranRatMonkey 3 years ago

    Does he go through the draft or is he considered a free agent?

    • International Free Agent, but due to his age, he’ll be subject to the 2.9M international cap for amateur players.

      • grabarkewitz 3 years ago

        Unless a team is willing to pay the penalty. With a talent like this, I can see a couple teams thumbing their nose at the international cap and going with a pretty hefty contract. Seeing as how the Dodgers, lately, seem to be the team who doesn’t care about penalties and taxes, I would bet on them.

        • $6592481 3 years ago

          what are the penalties for going over the IFA spending cap?

          • Just looked it up. It gets pretty damn severe. A team might find Otani such an elite talent that it’s worth it, but they would DEFINITELY pay for it.

            “The penalty for a club exceeding its ISBP in a given year (July 2 – July 1) is a tax (no draft picks are forfeited) and a restriction on bonuses that can be paid to international players over the next year. (A club that exceeds its ISBP by 5-10% would be permitted to sign only one international first-year player to a bonus of $500K or more, a club that exceeds its ISBP by 10-15% would be prohibited from paying a bonus in excess of $500K to any international first-year player, and a club that exceeds its ISBP by 15%+ is prohibited from paying a bonus in excess of $250K to any international first-year player).”

          • melonis_rex 3 years ago

            One interesting thing is that caps next year are allocated by record though, so a team that won 90+ games has far less to spend next year anyway (in the 1.8-2MM range while teams that won fewer games could have upwards of 5MM)

            A team with a low 2013 cap could give Otani like 5MM or so, pay the 100% tax on the excess money, and essentially sit out the IFA market next year (make a few 250K signings), taking a quality-over-quantity approach.

          • $6592481 3 years ago

            Those penalties are pretty steep. I do like it though. Based on some thing melonis_rex says below, it definitely adds an additional layer of strategy to it, and still allows subpar teams a better chance to improve. When you’re looking at an elite talent in the international market, and the penalty is really only a year, good scouting should help make it a relatively safe bet that you won’t miss out on any new talent in the following year, or at least show you the talent that you could miss out on.

          • grabarkewitz 3 years ago

            I thought the penalty was pretty harsh, but a talent like this kid could make it worth not being able to spend huge on talent for a season. If you have good scouts a team can find players for less money. Guys like Rubby De La Rosa come to mind. He signed with the Dodgers for $15,000. I also think it will depend on which team can make the best presentation to the kid and his family.

    • craigkimbrelfan 3 years ago

      I’d assume it would work like deals such as Cespedes, Soler, etc.??

      • RahZid 3 years ago

        No, Cespedes and Soler were signed before the IFA spending ca came into effect. Michael is correct.

  2. Lefty_Orioles_Fan 3 years ago

    Well all of Baseball can be rest assured that Otani won’t be going to the Orioles. As long as Mr “Cheapo” aka Angelos is still owns the Orioles and Duquette is the GM signing a high profile free agent or a so called can’t miss prospect, it simply won’t happen. A few examples as to why I feel this way.
    O’s didn’t want to pay Blanton the 3 million that was owed to him. McLouth wasn’t singed till he cleared waivers. Didn’t even sniff at a Cody Ross or an Aoki signing. Didn’t trade for Joe Saunders till he cleared waivers. There was a terrible rumor floating around in July that Angelos gave the “Green Light” to spend, spend, spend! However, it turned out to be just that a rumor. Although, Angelos did give everyone a quarter, a Maryland Quarter, at that to everyone in the organization when they made the playoffs :{p!

    • Brent Lafond 3 years ago

      Wow a quarter? What a joke. Orioles went so long with out a playoff birth an had a great year in which they shocked baseball he should of done more then that. I thought you guys have money to spend I no he isnt a great owner but thought he was willing to spend glad as a Sox fan he wont.

    • Your team went to the playoffs. Why are you whining about ownership? Seems a little out of touch with reality to me.

      Did you really WANT a mediocre Blanton or a mediocre Saunders or a way too expensive McLouth?

      Give it a rest and let the GM of your team handle who to sign because obviously you haven’t learned those skills yet.

  3. edward 3 years ago

    red sox is in a position to offer more money than dodger and rangers because of their bad record right?

    • Nope. Red Sox have two relatively high profile signings of the J2 class, Wendell Rijo and Jose Almonte. Provided there have been no other signings, they still would not be able to offer more than 1.75M, unless they wait until June 2, 2013, which I don’t think Otani would want to do.

      • edward 3 years ago

        darn, how good of a prospect is otani? yu darvish like talent?

      • johnsilver 3 years ago

        SoxProspects is Showing Dedgar Jimanez signing at 175k also. Boston would be maxed at around 1.5m

  4. johnsilver 3 years ago

    Wouldn’t ever count out Seattle either with Japanese ownership.

    Seattle, LAD, or Boston are my choices as to the destination.. All teams with a deep history of success and multiple players from Japan, not to mention coaching/people in the system who work mainly with them as Boston had/has with Tazawa.

    Specialists make a difference. Teams need the infrastructure when dealing with such young people who are coming to a new culture and probably not fluent in the language either. many here will just say “sign him” and understand nothing of the impact, probably because they have never been outside of the one culture they currently know and do not understand.

    • BlueSkyLA 3 years ago

      Exactly right. Looks like the downrate monkeys are at it again.

      • johnsilver 3 years ago

        Yeah.. For sure there. Quickest way to attract the “downrate monkeys” isn’t to say something that is absurd here, but something they don’t understand my friend.

  5. MadmanTX 3 years ago

    Meet our soon to be newest Ranger.

  6. melonis_rex 3 years ago

    Who’s spent the least of their 2.9MM IFA cap for this year?

    I’m assuming he isn’t waiting till July 2, since he’d lose lots of development time then.

    • Charles Laffiteau 3 years ago

      Besides Juremi Profar, the only other signing the Texas Rangers announced was Luis Terrero. So my guess is the Rangers have much more money left in their signing pool than any other MLB team because they basically sat out the international signings this year until MLB finally approved the signing of Jairo Beras in late August and then suspended Beras for a year. The delayed ruling forced the Rangers to sit and not sign anyone from July 1st to late August in case the Beras contract was counted against their 2.9 million pool for this year. But in the end MLB also did not count the Beras signing against the Rangers 2.9 million signing pool, a decision which may now give the Rangers an advantage when it comes to signing Shohei Otani.

  7. tomymogo 3 years ago

    Red Sox just don’t learn, Japanesse pitchers do not work on MLB with very few exceptions.

    • mmiller54 3 years ago

      I think there have been a good number of solid asian players.

      • PlaidArmour 3 years ago

        Name them? Most fail. The problem is with a lot of these untested Japanese pitchers is they always sign for league average. Latin players rarely see similar contracts. Imagine if Cespedes or Chapman were playing out of Japan?

        • 1st off, Otani is a high school kid. Same as any high school pitcher except he throws triple digits.

          2nd Otani is an international free agent just like Cespedes and Chapman, not an NPB player that has to be posted like Darvish, Uehara, Ichiro or other Japanese players that have come to the US after playing professionally in Japan. He can only be signed from the $2.9 million pool all teams have to sign int’l FA.

          3rd Latin players see huge contracts at 16 years old, 2 years before US or Japanese players can be signed at all. Think of signing high school sophomores & juniors to professional contracts.
          Get informed about these things actually work before spewing hatred. Its not becoming.

        • Guest 3 years ago

          Uh … really?

          Ichiro Suzuki
          Takashi Saito
          Hiroki Kuroda
          Koji Uehara
          Junichi Tazawa
          Norichika Aoki
          Yu Darvish
          Hisashi Iwakuma

          Add Shin Soo Choo, Wei Yin Chen, and Chien Ming Wang to that list if you’re talking about Asian players and not just Japanese.

          Those are just the currently ACTIVE players who have had success either this year or during their primes.

          This kid is 18 and will come up in the American system.

          But sure, pass on a high school kid sitting mid-90s and touching 100 who can only get paid ~$3 million because of your illogical bias.

    • johnsilver 3 years ago

      What? Just Matsuzaka, the one they threw millions and millions at.

      Tazawa, who they signed at 21 has done well after TJ and Okajima was very good.

      Now.. NY has had problems, but Boston has done well in all the Asian markets with signings.

      • Stephen C. Gilmore 3 years ago

        Agree with @johnsilver:disqus , there may only be a few japanese success stories to point out, but there are Zero examples of any phenom brought up in a MLB farm system at 18 years old. Doesn’t matter where this kid is born, its where he’s developed professionally. I dont know much about all his pitches yet, but theres no way the Red Sox in their right mind should pass on an 18 year old with 100mph stuff. He could be the next Strasburg for all we know, or the next japanese bust. Its a risk you take.

    • $6592481 3 years ago

      You’re arguing from an extremely small sample size.

    • gutsgutslifelife 3 years ago

      Otani is different from other Japanese players since he is coming from Japanese high school, not Nippon Professional Baseball. If signed by MLB, Otani will spend some time in the minor leagues, just like an American drafted high school player. Other Japanese pitchers entice MLB teams with their gaudy NPB stats, but Otani is essentially a kid with a 100 mph fastball. He might as well be from California, but he happens to be from Japan.

  8. Marktown 3 years ago

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

  9. flyerzfan12 3 years ago

    Is there a list of IFA cap spaces anywhere?

    • A lot of the bonuses go unreported. I’m sure a lot of it is because teams want there to be some ambiguity as to what they actually have available, and I think a lot of the announced bonuses have come from the buscones, not the teams.

      I’ve been looking for some of the Rangers signings this morning, but could only find a hard number for Juremi Profar.

      • Charles Laffiteau 3 years ago

        Besides Juremi Profar, the only other signing announced was Luis Terrero. So my guess is the Rangers have much more money left in their signing pool than any other MLB team because they basically sat out the international signings this year until MLB finally approved the signing of Jairo Beras in late August and then suspended Beras for a year. The delayed ruling forced the Rangers to sit and not sign anyone from July 1st to late August in case the Beras contract was counted against their 2.9 million pool for this year. But in the end MLB also did not count the Beras signing against the Rangers 2.9 million signing pool, a decision which may now give the Rangers an advantage when it comes to signing Shohei Otani.

        • BlueSkyLA 3 years ago

          I can’t find a reference to the Dodgers signing any international free agents so far this year, so they may have most or all of their budget remaining. Puig doesn’t count.

          • lakersdodgersyankees4life 3 years ago

            We have about 1.6 probably. On the first day we signed 4 guys for about 1M and then we signed the pitcher out of Mexico. He was expected to get about 1M max, but only 25% of his bonus counts towards the pool

          • BlueSkyLA 3 years ago

            I find five who’s bonuses might apply: Cristian Gomez, Lenix Osuna, Victor Gonzalez, William Soto and Julian Leon. The pitcher you refer to from out of Mexico is Julio Urias. Right, only a quarter of his bonus applies. Haven’t seen numbers for any of them.

          • lakersdodgersyankees4life 3 years ago

            Osuna, Gonzalez, Soto and Leon are part of that 1M bonus pool that was signed on July 2nd. For Gomez, per BA, it was expected to be a low 6 figure bonus:

            “Terms were not available but Gomez was expected to sign for a low six-figure bonus.”

            I missed the Gomez signing, but the big one was Urias. There was no number on Urias, but I remember hearing he was expected to get 1M, with 25% going to him. So I guessed 250K. I guesstimated haha.

            Total I have is 1M for the 4, plus 250K for Urias, and about 100K most likely for Gomez, so 1.35M committed. Out of 2.9, we’re looking about about 1.55M left without penalties, assuming my guesses are correct.

          • Charles Laffiteau 3 years ago

            Of the 3 teams that talked to him in Japan (Dodgers, Red Sox and Rangers) Rangers have over $1 million more ($2.4-2.6 million left to spend) in their bonus pool than either the Dodgers or the Red Sox.

          • lakersdodgersyankees4life 3 years ago

            I know there was controversy about a specific player, but who did they sign? If they have 2.6M left, that means they’ve only spent 300K

          • BlueSkyLA 3 years ago

            Fair enough!

  10. safari_punch 3 years ago

    I bet you this doesn’t happen. He’s staying put in Japan. NPB has dibs due to the fact he is Japanese. NPB do not take kindly to poaching.

    Expect a stink over this.

  11. Shel K 3 years ago

    hopefully Theo can pull himself away from shopping the scrap heap long enough to put in a strong bid for this kid. Gotta be on his radar, it’s exactly the type of player he (says) he wants.

  12. danburrito 3 years ago

    I think the red sox will get him. They have money to spend after the deal with the dodgers, and they absolutely need pitching

    • Stephen C. Gilmore 3 years ago

      Definite great fit for sox, especially with the pitching-minded Farrell leading the team now. With this kid being just 18 and not having played in Japanese Majors, he has 100x more upside than Dice-K ever did, let alone not having to pay a ridiculous “posting fee” to speak to him. Sox are swimming in $$$ and in youth rebuild mode with some solid veteran bats, this is a way better direction than going after headcases like Greinke.

  13. SierraM363 3 years ago

    I want the sox to go after this guy and Kuroda. Really impressed with what he did in NY.

  14. Jay 3 years ago

    I wish my Mets could get him but we are broke.He sounds like a fit for the Dodgers

  15. dc21892 3 years ago

    Wanna see Boston throw 40m at this guy. He’s no guarantee but that’s an arm you cannot pass up. He has serious potential to be a stud. Possibly a bust of course, but he’s a power arm, and worth taking a shot on.

    • Sorry, he’ll be subject to the $2.9M international cap for amateur players. Boston is almost maxed out.

      • dc21892 3 years ago

        I thought you can overpay if you’re willing to pay the stiff penalty…? Correct me if I’m wrong. But he’s a guy you don’t pass up and live with the penalty.

        • lakersdodgersyankees4life 3 years ago

          theoretically yes, but no one is going to do that. Especially the 40M idea. I wouldn’t be surprised if Selig would not allow that contract just because it is a total slap in the face of the new rule. Not being able to sign any top IFA guy for the next year is a very stiff penalty for one 18 year old, no matter how good

          • dc21892 3 years ago

            It was just a number I typed in. In all honesty, I don’t care what it takes I think all the teams but the one that gets him will be missing out on a lot.

  16. SierraM363 3 years ago

    Boston had success with Tazawa. No doubt they’ll go hard after this guy.

  17. johnsilver 3 years ago

    In the Asian IFA market? Where would you like me to start? Irabu? Igawa?

  18. NYPOTENCE 3 years ago

    Yeah, and let’s forget about Wang and Matsui who both saw multiple successful years in the Bronx.

  19. johnsilver 3 years ago

    Agreed on Wang and Matsui. Both good talents.

    Issue has been with development (lower levels) and lack of instructional support staff that LA, Boston and I know Seattle also has and read NY lacks for both Korean and Japanese players.

  20. NYPOTENCE 3 years ago

    What you speak might be true but please name one Korean or Japanese born player that the Red Sox have successfully developed and helped reach the big leagues.

  21. NYPOTENCE 3 years ago

    Don’t know if the Yanks have enough cash left from the draft pool to lure him to NY. Also, the Yankees have a number of possible compensation worthy free agents that will help net some additional picks this year.

  22. johnsilver 3 years ago

    How many you want??? Junichi Tazawa (Japan) Che Hsuan Lin (Korea)

    They still have several more Korean players in the system, including the “other” Lin they just signed out of Korea for 2.5m.

  23. johnsilver 3 years ago

    Careful what you ask for with Tazawa.. NY might just be getting it…

  24. Jay 3 years ago

    No way the yankees will get a first round pick for Swisher.The only teams i could see interested in him are the Mariners and maybe the Brewers.I think it will be the Mariners because i cant see the Brewers giving up a first round pick for Swisher

  25. NYPOTENCE 3 years ago

    Actually, Swisher, Soriano and Kuroda are all projected to be Type-A free agents which means that the Yankees will indeed receive picks after the first round.

  26. NYPOTENCE 3 years ago

    None of these guys you speak of are proven. Lin barely received any playing time even with all the injuries that the Red Sox underwent, Tazawa has seen some success but he has not proven that he can perform consistently for more than just a year.. As for farms systems, the Yankees do have a number of Asian-born players in their system but until they can prove the can reach the majors and stick there they are unfortunately NOTHING.

  27. lakersdodgersyankees4life 3 years ago

    Dude why are you so angry? Jeez it’s a conversation on the Internet about baseball

  28. johnsilver 3 years ago

    I wasn’t the one who opined “name one who has been developed from within” and then I named 2, including 1 who had to undergo TJ right after coming to Boston from Japan as a 21YO amateur.

    Then pointed out that Tazawa has been nothing short of dominant since his full return to health after TJ and that didn’t seem good enough even and left it at “just wait it out” and it’s where am going to leave it… Tazawa will probably end up setting up Bailey for another year, but he has closer all over him.. 96-98mph FB, nasty splitter, good change and curveball.

    Think NY got 3-4 looks at him in September as well, as did the league.. He is a closer in the making.

  29. Jay 3 years ago

    Ok got it

  30. Hal_Jordan77 3 years ago

    Only if the Yankees make a qualifying offer($13.5 million, I believe) to each. If they don’t do that, then they don’t get a compensation pick.

    And “Type A” free agents don’t actually exist anymore due to the new CBA.

  31. NYPOTENCE 3 years ago

    All I’m saying is that I would want to see some more of Tazawa before we call him a success. For all we know he could suck just as much as Melancon did this past year.

  32. johnsilver 3 years ago

    What is it? wanted examples of an amateur brought up from entirely the minor league system and provided 2.. Sour grapes here or something and you and ur buddy just can’t take it?

  33. he is Taiwanese 3 years ago

    um… actually… Che Hsuan Lin isn’t Korean

  34. dassauIt 3 years ago

    Lin is not Korean….


    two of Lin are taiwanese 8D

  35. johnsilver 3 years ago

    Yes.. I corrected that on another post here at MLBTR last night, along with several other Taiwanese signings Boston made from 2006-8. Thx though.

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