November doesn’t exactly have the reputation as a barnburner month during the baseball offseason. Free agency technically opens, but few deals come together this early. More often than not, though, teams lay the groundwork for future signings and trades. The month essentially boils down to logistics.
This year proves no exception, as news of the offseason’s gem begins to surface. Multiple reports have indicated that the Nippon Ham Fighters will indeed post two-way superstar Shohei Otani. This represents the latest twist in the ongoing Otani saga. First came word that he wanted to pitch in the major leagues. Then sources suggested that negotiations between Nippon Professional Baseball, Major League Baseball, and the Players Association reached a snag. The roller coaster was in full swing.
Per the New York Post, further work needs to be done to ensure his arrival. A new posting arrangement tops the list. That said, things appear headed in the right direction. It would be ultimately be a surprise if Otani didn’t join a major league club this winter.
Otani, 23, pitched to a 3.20 ERA across 25.1 innings this season. He also authored a .332/.403/.540 batting line over 231 plate appearances. Injuries to his ankle and quad hampered the 2017 campaign, but his track record of excellence outweighs this clunker. He posted a 1.86 ERA and slugged 22 home runs in 2016, after all. He is without question a two-way superstar, the likes of which Major League Baseball hasn’t seen in decades.
These developments have to be good news for the Yankees, who expect to seriously pursue Otani. He fits multiple needs for the Bombers. He’s a young, frontline starting pitcher and an impact bat. Plus, he’s subject to international free agency spending limits since he’s under the age of 25. Given the Yankees’ desire to slide under the luxury tax threshold, Otani is essentially the perfect player. He is the type of addition that executives would dream of.
The Yankees have a slight competitive advantage when it comes to pool money. They can offer Otani up to $3.25 million, the second most allotment among eligible teams. In addition, the team can pitch their youth and high upside. It’s clear that Otani isn’t coming stateside for money, so one would expect a chance to win would rank high on his list.
While there’s still no guarantee that Otani will pitch in the majors next season, everything is pointing in that direction. There are a lot of positive signs. It feels like it’s just a matter of time now. That can only bode well for the Yankees, who will do whatever they can to convince the two-way sensation to don pinstripes. As the posting arrangements begin to take shape, these pitches might come sooner than one expects. Get ready for the Otani sweepstakes to really heat up.