Starting this Friday, December 1, teams will be able to pay the $20 million dollar posting fee to try and sign Shohei Otani, the Japanese wunderkind whose inevitable move from Japan to the MLB is overshadowing Giancarlo Stanton this off-season. Once he is posted, Otani will have exactly 21 days to choose a team.
Before the melee commences, here’s a quick fact sheet about the 23-year-old who pitches, hits, and fields like no one this sport has seen in decades…
- In 2017, he hit .332 with 22 homers (for reference, Mookie Betts had 24 this season)
- He’s also an elite pitcher who posted a 1.86 ERA with 174 K’s in 140 innings last season.
- In 543 career innings, he’s posted a 2.52 ERA and 624 K’s
- He has a win-loss record of 42-15
- In high school, he recorded a 99 mph pitch, the fasted by a Japanese high school pitcher
- He wanted to come to the Major Leagues straight from high school, but decided to spend a few years in the Japanese league instead
- Otani still wants to pitch, hit, and play right field when he makes the move to the MLB
- He seems more concerned with getting to play these multiple roles than about how much he’ll get paid
- Otani wants to find the best fit team for himself, so he sent out a quiz-like memo filled with questions to all 30 MLB teams asking about everything from the positions he’d play, cultural assimilation, philosophies, team facilities, their visions for his integration into their organizations, and why he should sign with them over other teams.
- He also asked each team to evaluate him as a pitcher and hitter and requested that no contract proposals be included in any team’s final response.
- The Mariners are trying to get HOF-er Kenn Griffey Jr. to help recruit Otani to Seattle rather than Los Angeles or New York, two franchises who’ve had immense success with Japanese players like Hideki Matsui and Kenta Maeda
- He studies Bryce Harper videos to improve his hitting
- His favorite players are fellow Japanese stars Ichiro Suzuki and Yu Darvish
- He currently wears #11, previously worn by Yu Darvish, who also played for the Nippon-Ham Fighters
- Since Otani is only 23 years old, teams are limited to paying him from their international bonus pools.
- The Yankees are the current frontrunners to sign the 23-year-old phenom. They can offer him a mere $3.5 million dollar signing bonus. Only the Rangers can offer more, $3.535 million.