Sept. 13-- According to several Japanese media outlets, the multi-talented Shohei Otani will go through the posting system and leave Nippon Pro Baseball to play in Major League Baseball next season.
The Texas Rangers are expected to make a strong push for Otani, a right-hander power pitcher and left-handed slugger. They tried to sign Otani as a free agent out of high school and have built a good relationship with him. Assistant general manager Josh Boyd has been the point man in that process.
Otani's reported desire to come to MLB next season indicates money is not a factor to him. Based on the demand for pitching, Otani will give up about $100 million.
Otani is 23 and will be considered an international free agent. That will limit how much a team can pay him, and MLB prohibits side deals with those players. The top deal that Otani could get would be worth about $10 million.
If Otani were to wait two more years, he would be an unrestricted free agent. With money not a factor, high-profile clubs such as the Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers have better chances of obtaining Otani. The Dodgers assigned two scouts to Otani's start on Tuesday.
Fighters chief executive officer Toshimasa Shimada has told Kyodo News that Otani "doesn't care about money. It's not about the money."
Otani has been limited much of this season with the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters of the Japan Pacific League by ankle and leg injuries.
On Tuesday, Otani allowed one hit in 5 2/3 innings for his first win of the season. According to Japanese media reports, his top velocity was 101 mph.
Otani won the Pacific League Most Valuable Player award last season. He was 10-4 with a 1.86 ERA and also hit .322 with 22 home runs in 104 games as the designated hitter. The Fighters won the Japan Series.
The Rangers have had a representative at all three of Otani's starts this season. General manager Jon Daniels went to Japan to watch Otani's workouts while he was on the disabled list.
If an MLB club signs Otani, it must pay a $20 million fee to the Fighters.
The posting system has changed since the Rangers signed right-hander Yu Darvish before the 2012 season. The Rangers won exclusive negotiating rights to Darvish with a bid of $51.7 million and signed him to a six-year, $56 million deal. The Rangers traded Darvish to the Dodgers on July 31.
Under the current system, Masahiro Tanaka received a seven-year, $155 million deal with the New York Yankees before the 2014 season. Tanaka was a full free agent because of his age.
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