The pursuit of Shohei Otani could be unlike anything we’ve ever seen, but it won’t begin in earnest for some time. Given the stakes, though, teams have already begun jockeying. The Rangers, in particular, sent a contingent led by GM Jon Daniels to watch Otani work out, as Even Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports. Though the 22-year-old phenom isn’t even able to pitch right now, sending over the top baseball ops brass was presumably conceived of as a means of laying some groundwork and working to get on Ohtani’s radar. Texas is a particularly interesting potential suitor, given that the team has employed star Japanese hurler Yu Darvish — and that he’ll be a free agent at season’s end.
Here’s more of interest from around the game:
- Veteran slugger Ryan Howard isn’t planning to retire, Meghan Montemurro of the News Journal reports. While the 37-year-old did not last long with the Braves organization after signing recently, he says he still has designs on playing. “By no means am I done,” Howard said. Nevertheless, the former National League MVP has also turned some attention to the future; he has become a partner with a venture capital firm called SeventySix Capital.
- While things have been far from perfect in the Reds pitching staff, the current roster represents a major upgrade in at least one way, as Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes. Despite needing to rotate through some arms, the club has only needed to clear a 40-man spot on one occasion, owing to the presence of more optionable players.
- Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch takes a look at the potential impact of the return of reliever Seth Maness, the former Cardinals hurler who’s now with the Royals. The so-called “primary repair” procedure he underwent on his elbow represents a less-invasive alternative to Tommy John surgery. The question, naturally, is how (and how long) it’ll hold up in full-speed MLB circumstances, and Maness will begin to provide some of the data needed to make that assessment.
- If you’re looking for some other reading material heading into the weekend, you’ll definitely want to bookmark the epic account of the 1992 expansion draft put together by MLBTR contributor Chuck Wasserstrom. Once you’re through that (it’s long, but worth it), you can check out any number of interesting pieces at Fangraphs, including these on the Orioles’ unlikely successes, the possible breakout of Aaron Altherr, and how Eric Thames turned free time into mastery of the strike zone. Those interested in reading about the bump in home runs early this year should check out this post from Ben Lindbergh of The Ringer. And if you’d like to learn the latest on the prospect front, check out Baseball America’s updated top-100 prospects list and its new top-50 draft list.