Shohei Otani, the Japanese two-way star, is likely coming to MLB next season, according to multiple reports.
Otani, 23, plays for the Nippon-Ham Fighters of the Nippon Professional Baseball League. He is a former No. 1 overall draft pick in the league and has more than exceeded the expectations that come with being a top pick.
Otani has blossomed into a star as both a hitter and pitcher, reaching three All-Star games and winning the Pacific League MVP last year. He can throw 102 mph and bash monster home runs. Last season he went 10-4 with a 1.86 ERA and hit .322 with 22 home runs.
One interesting aspect of Otani’s impending request to be posted is that he will not be maximizing his potential earnings. He is an international free agent and under 25, meaning he would be subject to MLB’s rules restricting the amounts teams can pay for a foreign player under 25. Teams have hard caps and limited bonus pools they can use on international free agents. The most Otani would be expected to be able to sign for is around $10 million, giving all teams a shot at him. Had he waited until after he was 25, he would be a free agent and not subject to the bonus pools.
Perhaps Otani feels he is ready for the next challenge and more concerned with beginning his career at the highest level than the money he makes on his first contract. Ultimately, if he performs well, the money will come to him.