Shohei Otani Rumors

Olney On Braves, Cano, Otani

The latest from’s Buster Olney

  • Brian McCann’s $12MM option for 2013 no longer seems as appealing as it once did, Olney writes. The Braves are working to address many offseason needs with a modest payroll and McCann's recent shoulder surgery was more extensive than expected. Olney points out that the Braves could attempt to negotiate a deal at a lower salary or exercise the option and trade McCann to a team such as the Rangers or Yankees. Of course the Braves could simply bring the catcher back for another season in the hopes that his shoulder recovers.
  • Next year’s free agent class might be light on impact talent other than Robinson Cano, Olney writes. In general it probably doesn’t make sense to expect stacked free agent classes at a time that teams are locking up players to extensions that cover their prime years.
  • Japanese pitching prospect Shohei Otani intends to pursue a career in MLB, and a number of teams are interested in the hard-throwing right-hander. The Red Sox and Rangers “have done the most work in this arena,” according to Olney.

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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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. 

Quick Hits: Hunter, Leyland, Otani, Astros

The Angels have offered Torii Hunter a one-year contract at a heavy pay cut from his previous $18MM salary, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported today. Hunter, who’s eligible for free agency this offseason, seeks at least a two-year deal. The Angels are interested in bringing him back, so there’s a potential fit here if the sides can agree on the value and length of the contract. Here are today’s links…

  • Longtime MLB manager Tony La Russa says Jim Leyland of the Tigers seems "as passionate now as he was the first day he managed,”Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports. Leyland, 67, doesn't have a contract for the 2013 season.
  • Shohei Otani throws a slider and a curve to go along with his explosive fastball, Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker writes. The 18-year-old right-hander is one of the top high school pitching prospects to emerge from Japan in years. The Red Sox, Dodgers and Rangers all have some interest in Otani.
  • Astros GM Jeff Luhnow said special assistant Matt Galante was offered the chance to return but will explore other options, Brian McTaggart of reports (on Twitter).