While the 2018-19 MLB free agency class is being heralded as arguably the most star-studded in baseball history, this winter may feature plenty of intrigue should Japanese superstar Shohei Otani elect to make the jump to the United States.
However, in order to do so, Otani will need to be posted by the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters. The team has yet to publicly reveal if they intend to make the 22-year-old available to Major League clubs.
Further uncertainty lies with whether Otani has a preference on which team he potentially joins. According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, one general manager believes the right-handed slugger may be interested in joining the Los Angeles Dodgers:
One scout is convinced the Texas Rangers are the favorites for Otani. Another GM believes the same – though he heard Otani might prefer the Los Angeles Dodgers. And then there are the San Diego Padres, who have a partnership with Otani’s Japanese team and hired a former strength coach of his in a prominent role.
At his current age, Otani would forfeit the opportunity to sign a much more lucrative contract. The current MLB Collective Bargaining Agreement put a hard cap on posting fees, and teams’ spending power for international free agents 25 years old or younger.
A cap previously applied to international free agents who were under the age of 23 years old. What’s more, the Dodgers are among the teams who have limited spending power due to previously exceeding their bonus allotment during the international signing period.
Otani did say in April he was not concerned by changes under the current CBA.
A hamstring injury has limited Otani to just eight games this season, and he’s yet to take the mound. Otani is batting .407/.469/.815 with five doubles, two home runs and three RBI.
Many were eager to see the right-hander compete in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, but an ankle injury prevented him from being included on Japan’s roster.