Japanese sensation Shohei Otani is reportedly primed to head to the majors in the offseason, but don’t be surprised if he changes his mind, Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times writes. The right-handed ace/left-handed slugger did just that in the past when it looked as if he’d come to North America out of high school, but he instead decided to play professionally in his homeland. Some major league executives wonder whether an agent will talk Otani out of leaving Japan in the offseason, given that the 23-year-old would stand to benefit financially (to an enormous degree) by waiting until he’s 25. At that point, he’d be able to sign a mega-deal that would crush the relatively small contract he’ll land if he makes his way to the big leagues during the upcoming winter.
- Thanks in part to the international spending limits in the new collective bargaining agreement, where Otani will sign in the offseason if he does emigrate from Japan in the offseason is “shrouded in mystery,” according to Buster Olney of ESPN. “It’s incredible how many unknowns there are,” one evaluator said of Otani, who could consider factors such as geography, market size, friendships, endorsement opportunities and the designated hitter rule when choosing a team, Olney suggests.
- The Mets have some reservations about using ace Noah Syndergaard again this year, Matt Ehalt of The Record reports (on Twitter). Unsurprisingly, if Syndergaard does return in 2017, the Mets will need to be convinced he’s at full strength. The flamethrowing superstar hasn’t pitched in the majors since April 30 because of a torn right lat, and while he has been working his way back recently, there’s not exactly a need for the out-of-contention Mets to deploy him again this season.
- Newly retired right-hander Ryan Vogelsong could have continued his career after Minnesota released him in March, but he told Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle and other reporters that he “checked out mentally” after the Twins cut him (Twitter links here). Vogelsong received minor league offers earlier this season, including from the Mets, but he didn’t want to move his family to Las Vegas – the home of their Triple-A affiliate.
- J.J. Cooper of Baseball America (subscription required and recommended) highlights 10 prospects who have taken major steps forward this year. The biggest name on the list is Phillies first baseman/outfielder Rhys Hoskins, who has mashed a record 18 home runs in his first 36 big league games since debuting Aug. 10. Hoskins gained more believers among scouts as he climbed closer to the majors, notes Cooper, who expects the 24-year-old to be a long-term impact player in Philadelphia.