The Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters are planning to post two-way superstar Shohei Otani after the 2017 season, according to a report from Sponichi (Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports has follow-up tweets). Should the team follow through next winter, Otani would immediately become one of the most sought-after members of the 2017-18 free agent class.
Since the Fighters have five remaining years of control over Otani before he was eligible to come to North America as a full free agent, this move comes as quite a surprise. Otani just turned 22 last July and he helped lead the Fighters to the 2016 Japan Series championship after an all-around spectacular season. Not only did Otani post a 1.86 ERA, 11.2 K/9 and 3.87 K/BB rate over 140 innings, he also hit .322/.416/.588 with 22 homers over 382 plate appearances as a designated hitter. In Otani’s four professional seasons, he sandwiched a good year at the plate in 2014 between mediocre hitting performances in 2013 and 2015 before his superstar-level breakout this year.
Otani has long drawn the attention of MLB scouts, and he even considered foregoing Nippon Professional Baseball altogether in order to go to the majors as a teenager before agreeing to accept being drafted by the Fighters. The right-hander has a four-pitch arsenal that includes a fastball that has topped out at 102mph, though he generally throws it in the 95-97mph range. As a hitter, Otani swings from the left side and has displayed tape-measure power.
At the end of the 2017 season, Otani will be 23 and will have played five seasons in NPB, which would’ve made him eligible to sign with any team as an international free agent under the old rules of the collective bargaining agreement. (Though he would’ve been subject to the existing posting rules for Japanese players.) Under the new collective bargaining agreement, international players will only be ineligible from the stricter international bonus pool system if they’ve played six years in a recognized top league (like Cuba’s Serie Nacional) or are older than 25; years old. It isn’t yet clear whether those rules apply to just Cuban players or to all international talents. In any case, the overall stricter international signing policies have created some debate about when and how Otani would be impacted, though Passan tweeted earlier this week that some adjustments could be made to accommodate Otani or other Japanese players.
Assuming some adjustments are indeed made to allow Otani to be posted normally, any MLB team willing to cough up a $20MM posting fee to the Fighters will be eligible to negotiate with Otani. Once he agrees to a (no doubt very sizeable) contract with a North American club, only the team that actually signs Otani would pay that $20MM fee to Nippon-Ham, leaving the Fighters with relatively little financial incentive to be posting their best talent. One would think that Otani has perhaps requested to be posted, hence the early decision by the team.
couldn’t come sooner!!! Those check books will be out in full force. screw trading for a TOR. Braves should just hold pat and break out the wallets for this guy this time next year
Cubs. Byebye Arrieta. Unfortunately.
If true this will boil down to whether he wants to be a Red Sox , Yankee, Dodger , National or Cub and nothing else
Pretty much. But watch every fan come in here and be like “My team needs to get him.”
To be honest that is some real bs, Not your statement, but the reality of your statement.
Giants must be on that list/
Phillies have just as much money as any of them, and the need for a star talent.
I don’t think the Phillips, Giants or Nationals will realistically be on the list of teams that have a shot.
Unless he has a specific team that he really wants to play for for cultural reasons, I do agree that he’ll be playing for LA, Boston, Yanks, or Cubs.
You honestly think money doesn’t matter, that he’ll be infatuated with a few high-profile teams and rule everyone else out? He’ll go where the money takes him, like most everyone else. It just so happens that teams like the Red Sox, Dodgers, and Yankees are usually where the money is.
and if he busts out like many NBP exports before him have, they’ll have no one to blame but themselves
and team that wants to take the risk is welcome to. It’s still ultimately his decision where he wants to play.
that is the reason there needs to be a international draft
so players like Otani stay overseas where they can make more money?
There is no way the Nationals could afford him considering they have strasburg and scherzer. You can’t have 3 25 mil a year players without going over the luxury cap. Unless the rest of your team are rookies.
As far as the dodgers. Wonder if their debt problems will effect the signing Otani.
Cubs, redsox, and yankees probably the most likely. Maybe he woukd prefer a west coast team since Japan is right across the pond there. Kinda. Will see! Also. Which teams will let him bat? Kinda makes me think it’d have to be an AL team
He’d be assured ABs every 5th day in the NL and I could see Madden or Roberts using him as a PH regularly. My money would be on Chicago at this point.
But he could be assured ab’s every day in the AL as the DH
Think he winds up in Tampa or Oakland………?
Oakland is now being forced to think of themselves as a large market team?! Still a laugher if you ask me
Otani is actually a free agent in 2019. The article states that he and Nippon went to the proverbial negotiation table but couldn’t come to an agreement. They would have had those talks if he was still under control until 2022 or so.
No, they have control of him through 2021, regardless of what his current contract length is. He only signed a 1-year deal with them for 2017 precisely because he probably wants to be posted after next year.
Just Another Fan
Might be the first legit SP/DH! Such a remarkable talent, he might also get a 10 year deal!
Is it possible to have a guy be the starting pitcher, get pulled after 5-8 innings, then move to DH?
not under the current rules
In AL, can you still use your pitcher in the DH spot, or does it have to be a different player? Because if a team can, he could just be the DH the entire game…
Nope. The pitcher either bats or the team uses a DH. The team can also not use the DH for anyone other than the pitcher.
American League teams don’t have to use the DH, so he could hit for himself in the AL but the team loses the DH for the entire game so it would it basically be the same as a NL game
Well they could throw out a NL lineup every 5 days and just deal with it after he leaves the game and then have him DH the other days of the week
You cant double switch pitcher to dh, the bring in your reliever and the old dh is out?
Once the pitcher bats you lose the DH. Also, once the DH enters the game defensively you lose the DH as well.
No. A double-switch can only be done with a defensive player.
The new collective bargaining agreement hasn’t yet specified if hes exempt from INT spending restrictions. If he isn’t, this isn’t relevant, because he’d never sign prior to that
They will bend the rule for him, its clear that the MLB wants to see him come over, and thats not happening without a max contract.
He will get his shot at being a dual player, but after the first year a team will mainly employ him where he excelled. Sad, but I really don’t think teams care about his versatility long term.
Idk, I think he sounds like the rich man’s Micah Owings. Except it sounds like Otani can be a front of the rotation starter which Owings never amounted to.
Like to think he will get something like 6-8 years at 20-25mil/per year easily.
Oakland has the ticket…
Yankees please get him and let him DH at home short porch he bats left handed Hal write the check now u will get it back with all the media he will bring
If hes on a crappy team he could start and hit cleanup potentially. Cant wait till brian kenny gets hold of this and his potential WAR numbers.
I would imagine he would only consider AL teams so that he could DH everyday, if he is a good enough hitter in the majors. I’m excited to see this guy in the mlb. I’m not sold on the hitting ability in the majors, never seen him play, but it doesn’t always translate to the majors.
He’s not considered a great hitter; his numbers before 2016 weren’t really good at the plate. He’ll come over as a pitcher only in my opinion. Too much value in the arm. Some team might let him DH one or two days a week if he insists, but there’s no way a team would let a starter DH on the day before or after a start or on his throw day.
Tangentially related question:
Are they hams who fight? Or do they fight ham?
The team name is a bit unclear….
So I know you’re being tongue-in-cheek, but the company that owns the team is Nippon Ham. (Japanese baseball is unabashedly corporate.) That being said, I still like to call them the Ham Fighters 😛
id love to see a Honey Baked Ham Fighters. lmao.
I gave up after the minor league hockey team, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
I assumed there was a place called Bridgeport Sound that had a team called the Tigers.
Now, I’m left wondering what the ____ a Sound Tiger is….
I would expect the giants to be in on this lottery at a reasonable price if (or I should say when) cueto opts out
I see him preferring an NL team so that he can bat and pinch hit.
So Tanaka got a 7yr/$155M deal that had plenty of perks and he was age 25 at the time. I’m guessing that $200M for Otani is not out of the question.
It’s probably going to end up at like 28 mil per for 8 or 9 years with a 4 year player opt out and full no trade clause
Out of curiosity i watched some highlights online of this kid. Pitching looks solid he throws bullets with little effort.
But I was most impressed with with some of his long balls. Some pull, some to center field but mostly going the other way, usually left-center field. And they weren’t cheapies in these stadiums with tall outfield walls. Very nice.
Also a good amount were off lefty pitching. Id like to see his splits.
I’m interested to see how the MLB “bends” the rules for this guy. Someone, I think Rosenthal said the CBA was for all international players. You can’t make exceptions for 1 guy.
His posting fee alone will probably be in the $80M-$100M range, then comes the inevitable $150-$200M contract. Less than a handful of teams can afford that price. If Tanaka stays with the NYY that might be a great incentive for Otani to sign with the Yankees as well.
Posting fee is $20 million max now, and has been for some time.
I got it!!! we get Ottani and President Shinjo Abbe; Japan gets Puljois and Donald Trump!!!!!
It would be fun to see Colorado somehow sign him. He would hit in Denver and finally give a true ace to a staff that has lacked one since their incarnation.