In the past, international spending limits vanished once a player reached 23 years old. The new basic agreement bumped that to 25 – and, in the process, left Otani facing one whopper of a choice: Does he come to MLB after the 2017 or ’18 seasons and subject himself to a maximum signing bonus of $10.1 million, or does he wait until his 25th birthday in 2019, try to win another championship or two with the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters and come stateside with unlimited earning potential?
The general consensus among the GMs pegged market value for a 23-year-old starting pitcher with an elite fastball and elite splitter, plus a curveball and a slider that flash great now and again, and, oh, by the way, a bat that OPS’d over 1.000 last season, at $200 million minimum.
One GM put it this way: “Does he want to come over here badly enough that he’s essentially going to pay $100 million a year for two years to play?”
The prospect of Otani playing in the outfield regularly and pitching every fifth day in a rotation is farfetched, as much because it’s a foreign concept in MLB as the bodily wear and tear it could cause. A likelier option is spending the four days he’s not pitching as a designated hitter, and multiple American League teams surveyed believe they have an inside track accordingly.
Thursday, June 8, 2017
"The mystery of Shohei Otani and whether he'll leave $200M on the table to play in MLB"