As many as 16 teams had scouts and/or executives on hand to watch star right-hander Shohei Otani’s most recent start, reports Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times (Twitter links). Of particular note, Hernandez adds that Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto was among the execs on hand to scout Otani. The start was just Otani’s third of the season, as he’s been hampered by ankle and hamstring injuries throughout the calendar year that have prevented him from getting on the mound. It’s not yet certain if the two-way phenom will be posted for MLB clubs to bid on this offseason — the new CBA’s strict limits on international spending have radically limited his earning power in that scenario — but if he does, virtually every team that is not currently restricted for shattering previous bonus pools would have interest in the 23-year-old. Otani posted a 1.80 ERA with a 174-to-45 K/BB ratio in 140 innings on the mound and hit .322/.416/.588 with 22 homers in 382 plate appearances last season. He’s hitting .346/.416/.574 with seven homers through 185 PAs as a designated hitter this year.
More from the AL West…
- In addition to right-hander David Hernandez, the Angels would likely have traded righty Bud Norris leading up to the non-waiver deadline but didn’t receive much interest in him, the L.A. Times’ Pedro Moura writes in his latest Angels Inbox column. General manager Billy Eppler and his staff weren’t sure the team would have a reasonable enough shot at a Wild Card berth to pursue additions on July 31, though they obviously pivoted in August, acquiring Justin Upton and Brandon Phillips. As Moura notes, Hernandez hasn’t exactly dominated following his trade to Arizona, so that minor swap isn’t likely to be the ultimate difference in whether the Angels secure a Wild Card position or come up just shy. The Halos are one game back of the Twins for that spot at the moment. Moura also gives his thoughts on the team’s chances of retaining Upton and Phillips beyond 2017 and examines some of the Angels’ better low-cost pickups, so Halos fans will want to check it out.
- Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register writes that Angels lefty Andrew Heaney could miss his next start due to some shoulder troubles. While an MRI showed that Heaney did not have an “acute strain,” it also revealed symptoms “consistent with internal impingement.” Heaney has struggled in four of his five starts since returning from Tommy John anyhow, but the injury-ravaged Angels’ pitching staff hardly needs further injuries to tax the rotation or the bullpen with a Wild Card spot in arm’s reach.
- Promoting top prospect Willie Calhoun may not have been an easy call for the Rangers, writes Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, as the team didn’t have to add him to the 40-man to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft this winter. And, as Grant points out, the Rangers will already be effectively operating with only 39 spots on their 40-man roster, as they’ll need to carry Prince Fielder throughout the offseason in order to place him back on the 60-day disabled list next spring and collect the insurance on his contract. Nonetheless, injuries to Adrian Beltre, Carlos Gomez, Rougned Odor and Mike Napoli as well — Grant tweets that he could be down for a bit after missing yesterday’s game with “lower body stiffness” — created a need for Calhoun. He’ll likely play left field, with Delino DeShields manning center while Gomez is down.