November 12, 2017


The biggest baseball free agent may be the less known.

Shohei Otani is a pitcher-outfielder in Japan. At 23 years old, he is a major league talent.
In 5 pro seasons, he has hit .286 BA, 48 HR, 166 RBI and 13 SB. In 2016 he hit 22 HR in 104 games.
As a pitcher, he has a career 42-25 record, 2.52 ERA, 1.076 WHIP and 7 SHO. Last year he was limited in games played by a thigh injury.

But Otani and his team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, have agreed to post him for MLB.

The Associated Press has written that Texas, the New York Yankees and Minnesota can pay the most for Otani if Major League Baseball and its Japanese counterpart can agree to the outlines of a deal to keep the old posting system for this off-season.
The Rangers can agree to a maximum $3,535,000 signing bonus from their pool that covers July 2 through next June 15, according to figures compiled by Major League Baseball and obtained by The Associated Press. New York can pay $3.25 million and the Twins $3,245,000.

Just three other teams can give him a seven-figure signing bonus: Pittsburgh ($2,266,750), Miami ($1.74 million) and Seattle ($1,570,500).

After that comes Philadelphia ($900,000), Milwaukee ($765,000), Arizona ($731,250), Baltimore ($660,000), Boston ($462,000) and Tampa Bay ($440,500).

Twelve teams are capped at $300,000 as penalties for exceeding their signing bonus pool under baseball's previous collective bargaining agreement, which did not have a cap: Atlanta, the Chicago Cubs and White Sox, Cincinnati, Houston, Kansas City, the Los Angeles Dodgers, Oakland, St. Louis, San Diego, San Francisco and Washington.

Other clubs have even less available: Detroit ($159,500), the Los Angeles Angels ($150,000), the New York Mets ($105,000), Toronto ($50,000), and Cleveland and Colorado ($10,000 apiece).
Each team started with a pool of $4.75 million, $5.25 million or $5.75 million, and amounts could be traded. Most of the pool money already has been spent on Latin American prospects.

Under baseball's new collective bargaining agreement, the 23-year-old Otani can only agree to a minor league contract that is subject to signing bonus pools. If added to a big league roster, he would have a salary for about the minimum $545,000 next season and not be eligible for salary arbitration until 2020 at the earliest.

If he waits until he is 25 to enter MLB, there would be no restrictions and he likely would get a deal for more than $100 million. MLB has warned of severe penalties if a team attempts to sign Otani to a secret long-term contract, then announce it in future years.