Little is known about Shohei Otani’s preferred destination if he makes the jump to Major League Baseball this offseason, though in a profile of the two-way star, Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times wonders if Otani’s reputation as a “yakyu shonen” (as Hernandez puts it, “basically, a kid who lives, eats and breathes baseball”) could provide some hints. Otani is believed to be intent on coming to MLB for competitive reasons given his outward lack of interest in money. For this same reason, Otani may not necessarily be swayed by a wealthy team like the Dodgers or Yankees, according to Hiroshi Sasaki, Otani’s former high school coach. When choosing schools, Otani chose to play for a lower-profile high school closer to home rather than accept offers from larger programs.
Here’s more from around baseball as we head into the postseason…
- The Rangers seem like one of the four or five teams most likely to sign Otani, and possibly the favorite “if it comes down to the dollars available and a college-recruiting like pitch,” Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News writes as part of a reader chat. Still, Grant doesn’t believe any team has more than a 15-18% chance of signing Otani, since any number of factors could influence his choice.
- Perhaps with this in mind, the Rays are also “sincere” about their interest in Otani, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes. The Rays usually don’t have the financial resources to compete for blue-chip international talent, though Otani’s situation presents a unique opportunity. The Rays can offer Otani a chance to both pitch and hit, and they can point to their willingness to let fourth overall pick Brendan McKay be a two-way player as an example of their flexibility.
- The Nationals have shown interest in Zack Cozart in the past and could be a fit for the free agent shortstop this winter, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe opines. It may hinge on whether or not the Reds issue Cozart a qualifying offer, though if the Nats did make a move, Cozart would take over at short and Trea Turner could shift to center field. (This would also move Adam Eaton to left field to replace free agent Jayson Werth.) Defensive metrics indicate that Turner’s glovework is better as a shortstop than as a center fielder, though it may still be too early in Turner’s young career to make that call one way or the other. Cozart, of course, is one of the game’s better defenders and is coming off an outstanding season at the plate.
- Astros righty David Paulino recently underwent surgery to remove bone spurs from his throwing elbow but is expected to be ready for Spring Training, the team announced (MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart has the details). Paulino was placed on the 60-day DL just as he was eligible to be activated following an 80-game PED suspension. The 23-year-old was cited on top-100 prospect lists from Baseball America (51st), MLB.com (54th) and Baseball Prospectus (83rd) prior to the season and he has gotten cups of coffee in each of Houston’s last two seasons, with a 6.25 ERA over 36 big-league innings.