Japanese MVP Shohei Otani expects to be in Major League Baseball in 2018

Japan's pinch hitter Shohei Otani watches the flight of his ground-rule double with Netherlands' catcher Dashenko Ricardo in the seventh inning of their international exhibition series baseball game at Tokyo Dome in Tokyo Sunday Nov. 13 2016
Shohei Otani: Aims to join MLB in 2018
Author

13 September, 2017

Otani could maximize his earning potential by waiting one more season to get out from under MLB's worldwide signing regulations, but it sounds like the 23-year-old is ready to make the move.

According to Thomas Lott of Omnisport (h/t Sporting News), Otani's team in Japan-the Nippon Ham Fighters-must post him and approve of his right to negotiate with an Major League Baseball team since he isn't eligible for free agency in Japan until following the 2021 campaign.

Japanese baseball star Shohei Otani will reportedly play Major League Baseball next season. The 23-year-old two-way superstar now boasts a.346/.416/.574 slash line over 51 games this season and holds a 2.60 career ERA over 522.1 innings in Nippon Professional Baseball. He finished last season with an OPS of 1.004. The assumption is that Otani would like to be both a position player and pitcher on a team in the majors, but it's unknown what teams - if any - would be willing to let this happen (and may require an owner supremely interested in selling tickets).

Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports noted the decision to come to the U.S. in advance of his age-24 season will cost Otani hundreds of millions of dollars.

So instead of a bidding war, teams will have to make other kinds of pitches to Otani.

The rules, ratified early this year, mean that worldwide pros under the age of 25 are treated like amateurs and unable to sign lucrative free agent contracts.


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