It’s really happening, folks.
Shohei Otani, one of the most highly touted Japanese baseball players in recent history, plans to play in Major League Baseball in 2018, according to multiple Japanese reports cited by Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan. Per Passan, Otani will enter Japan’s posting system this winter and, in theory, sign with an MLB club prior to the 2018 season.
The 23-year-old is an incredibly talented two-way star for the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters of Japan’s elite Nippon Professional Baseball league. He posted a 10-4 record and 1.86 ERA as a starting pitcher in 2016 and reportedly has hit 102 mph on the radar gun, but also boasts tremendous power as a hitter, clubbing 22 home runs last season to go along with a .322 batting average.
While it was expected Otani would come stateside at some point, few expected him to jump so soon; MLB places a hard cap on the international signings of players under 25 years old, meaning he’ll leave a massive sum on the table by moving to MLB before he turns 25.
Otani could receive less than that $10.1 million total, however, as teams have a limited amount of “bonus pool” money to sign international free agents. The Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees both could have $8.3 million at their disposal to sign Otani, per Passan, while other clubs have lower caps.
Financials aside, though, it appears Otani is ready to take his game to baseball’s biggest stage, which means MLB players soon might be witness to this:
Thumbnail photo via YouTube/bryceharper
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