Against all odds, it looks like Nippon Professional Baseball superstar Shohei Otani is coming to Major League Baseball next season.
The phenom — who has been referred to as the second coming of Babe Ruth due to his abilities at the plate and on the mound — reportedly wants to be posted in the offseason. If Otani does that, he would give up literally millions of dollars to come to MLB.
Thank a new rule in the latest collective bargaining agreement for that. There’s now a hard cap on what teams can spend on international free agents. That cap limits teams at just a little bit over $10 million for the entire international spending period. Basically, that’s the highest amount they can spend to acquire Otani.
That’s chump change to an MLB team, meaning all 30 should be considered serious threats to sign Otani.
With money not playing a role in Otani’s decision, we decided to have some fun. We asked our experts to pick the most interesting landing spot for the 23-year-old Otani. We left “most interesting” open to interpretation just to see what weird results it would produce.
Here’s what they said:
On the surface this might seem unrealistic. It’s the Miami Marlins after all, and we’ve already heard rumblings that Derek Jeter and company intend to slash the team’s payroll. None of that really applies here, though, given the timing of Otani’s reported decision to leave Japan and the ramifications it will have. For once it’s not entirely about the money, and that gives everyone a fighting chance.
With that in mind, wouldn’t it be fun to see Jeter announce his arrival by somehow edging out the Yankees (and Red Sox too) for a player they reportedly covet? It would make for a tremendous storyline and it could also make for a good business move to bring in Otani’s star potential at a reduced rate to help fill a void should they ultimately decide to trade Giancarlo Stanton. The Marlins could get the best of both worlds in that scenario.
Let’s not forget the Marlins have had Ichiro in the mix as well the past two years. Assuming he continues on and he’s kept around, he could help recruit Otani and then help him adjust to life in a new league and a new country. There are more dots than you might think that connect with Miami, and if Jeter wanted him bad enough he might push his front office to go all in to make a big splash.
Of course, even in that scenario the Marlins would have to get creative based on what they can offer. It’s a long shot, but I think it’s one of the more interesting landing spots for baseball’s next big thing. (Mark Townsend)
Since money doesn’t matter in the Otani sweepstakes, I will selfishly think of what entertains me most. And the best answer for his destination is the Chicago Cubs — most specifically manager Joe Maddon. Maddon has proven himself time and time again to be a man who doesn’t care about baseball convention. And since Otani might be the least conventional MLB-star-to-be — that’s what I want to see.
Maddon will hit his first baseman lead off or play his third baseman in left field. Heck, he’s moved a pitcher to left field briefly then moved him back to the mound shortly after, just so he didn’t burn a bullpen arm. That’s the guy I want to see managing Otani. While seeing Otani play in the AL could be fun, seeing what Joe Maddon would do with him, might be even better. It would be nightly baseball theater. (Mike Oz)
For Otani to be able to use all his skills, he needs to go to an AL team. (Sorry, NL.) And that team should be the Twins. They’re not in a huge market and they’re not an established powerhouse — they’re a young team experiencing a big breakout year. Adding Otani would be the perfect way to continue that. He would instantly improve their rotation and be a standout star, but he would also fit in with the team’s dynamic. Plus, the Twins’ front office is young and daring and they might just be willing to let Otani pitch and DH.
Otani could really carve out his own place with the Twins. He wouldn’t be competing with any other big name pitchers on the roster, and he wouldn’t be expected to fit a mold created by someone else. He could go about his business without the constant media scrutiny that exists in other cities. (Liz Roscher)
If I’m a member of the Seattle Mariners, here’s the pitch I’m making. “Hello, Mr. Otani, thank you for considering our team. You might remember we are the team that signed Ichiro Suzuki and then watched him build his Hall of Fame career. We currently employ Hisashi Iwakuma, and he could help you make the transition to MLB. We have a very large Japanese fanbase already — partially due to those players, and partially due to our club being partially owned by Nintendo. Speaking of Ichiro, remember when he came over, reinvigorated baseball in the city and led a historically great team to the postseason in his rookie year? Unfortunately, we haven’t been back since. But with your help, you could be the first rookie since Ichiro to take us there. You would be a legend in Seattle for the rest of your life.”
I don’t know how he turns that down. (Chris Cwik)
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