Tag Archives: Shohei Ohtani

Phillies fans are going to have to wait on Mike Trout

Embed from Getty Imageswindow.gie=window.gie||function(c){(gie.q=gie.q||[]).push(c)};gie(function(){gie.widgets.load({id:’sysBPfSaTOpDQXKQg60PlA’,sig:’ALzbcobvwtO0CrpofmRk9Z302RYXxKIF2wfe-sbLyL4=’,w:’594px’,h:’439px’,items:’490210931′,caption: true ,tld:’co.uk’,is360: false })});//embed-cdn.gettyimages.com/widgets.js

Phillies fans have never been shy about their affection for local guy Mike Trout

If you follow discussions among the Philadelphia Phillies fan base on social media you know that it is difficult to go more than a couple of days without someone admonishing the team to “bring home” the best player in baseball, Mike Trout.

It takes just a glance at the career of the “Millville Rocket” to understand the desire of fans to see the native of that South Jersey town play his home games in the Phillies red pinstripes.
While the Phillies were setting a franchise record with 102 wins during their last winning season back in 2011, Trout was breaking into Major League Baseball with an extended 40-game cup of coffee with the Los Angeles Angels.
During his official rookie campaign a year later, Trout captured the American League Rookie of the Year honors. He slashed .326/.399/.564 that year with 30 home runs, 65 extra-base hits, 49 stolen bases, and 129 runs scored.
Trout has now played in eight big-league seasons. He has been the AL Most Valuable Player twice and finished runner-up for the honors on three occasions. During his seven full seasons the lowest that he has finished in AL MVP voting has been fourth.
Now 27-years-old, Trout has 240 career homers, 648 RBI, 793 runs scored, and 189 stolen bases with a .307/.416/.573 career slash line. The OPS mark of .990 that he has put together during that period is the best in all of baseball. He is also a seven-time American League All-Star and six-time Silver Slugger Award winner.
Trout now has a 64.3 career WAR mark, tied with Roy Halladay for 144th in baseball all-time. With a typical season in 2019 he would move past a couple of dozen Hall of Famers including Halladay, Willie McCoveyAndre DawsonCraig BiggioErnie BanksDuke Snider, and Roberto Alomar.
Trout has never won a Gold Glove Award and yet is widely considered among the best center fielders in the game. Early in his career, television highlight shows featured him frequently. His everyday excellence in this area of the game simply seems to now be taken for granted.
Trout did not commit a single error last year, the only center fielder in Major League Baseball who can make that claim. In fact, he has not committed an error since April of 2017.
But the affection for Trout extends beyond his phenomenal on-field performance for Philly sports fans. Trout is one of us. He grew up as a fan of Philadelphia sports teams. Trout tailgated at the 2008 World Series. He is one of the biggest fans of the Philadelphia Eagles that you are going to find.
USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports that when responding to questions about the Phillies current free agent search, Trout showed that he fully understands the passion and interest of the fan base by referencing his own situation.
Mike Trout on Free agent search: ‘I didn’t go a day this winter without someone asking, ‘When you coming to Philly.’ I can’t predict the future.’

609 people are talking about this

Despite the enthusiasm and desire of the Philly fan base, it is no slam-dunk that Trout will ever pull on a Phillies jersey for even one day of his career. He remains under contract with the Angels through the 2020 season. Their owner, Arte Moreno, fully understands what Trout means to his organization and is on record that he is going nowhere during his contract.
Moreno has spent plenty of money before and is fully prepared and capable of doing so again. He lured Albert Pujols away from the Saint Louis Cardinals, where the player had become an icon, with a 10-year, $240 million free agent contract back in 2012. Last off-season, Moreno won the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes, landing the Japanese star for the price of a $20 million posting fee and $2.315 million signing bonus.
The Angels owner has also already demonstrated his specific appreciation for Trout’s value and talents. He bought out the first few years of the superstar’s free agency eligibility with a six-year, $145.2 million-dollar deal covering the 2015-20 seasons. That contract set Trout up for life, kept him with the Halos for most of his prime years, but also allows him to become a free agent at age 29.
Fabian Ardaya, who covers the Angels for The Athletic, asked Trout about possible contract extension talks with the team. It would appear from his response that there are none happening as of this time.
Mike Trout declined to comment on any potential contract negotiations with the Angels. Said he likes where he’s at, and said he wants to win. Said he feels they haven’t been far off.

15 people are talking about this

You can expect that Moreno will make a major push to sign Trout long-term in an attempt to make him an Angel-for-life at some point. As long as there is any chance of that happening, Trout will not be traded. Phillies fans may as well stop hoping for it right now. It just is not going to happen.
It is an entirely different question as to what the Angels should do, as opposed to what they will do. If there are indications that Trout will give them no special consideration in free agency, and if the Angels are not in true contention, then trading him at the 2020 non-waiver deadline would be the smart move. He would likely land them a major package in return.
An even better opportunity would come this summer. Again, if the Angels engage with his agent and learn that he intends to enter free agency, and if the Angels are again not in contention, then dealing Trout this year would land them an even stronger package in return.
But that will not happen. Trust me. You don’t have to like it, you just have to accept it. Moreno will not trade away the best player in baseball, his franchise icon. At least not this year. My bet it that he will not even consider it at next year’s trade deadline.
Trout knows the fan base. Aside from baseball (for now) he is one of us. “I’m an Eagles fan. I know how we are,” he recently said to reporters.

Embedded video

Why are free agents reluctant to sign with the ? Philadelphia sports fans are no joke.

Mike Trout: “I’m an Eagles fan. I know how we are.”

15 people are talking about this

The most likely scenario for Phillies fans, by far, is to simply be patient. Enjoy whatever teams the Phillies run out during this 2019 season and then again next year. And when the 2020 season draws to an end, well, then we can talk about Trout. My guess is that 2020 off-season will make what we have gone through with Bryce Harper and Manny Machado this winter look like child’s play.

Japanese lefty pitcher Yusei Kikuchi may be on Phillies radar

Yusei Kikuchi with Seibu Lions in Japan
(Photo: えすぱにぃ  via Wiki Commons)
This will be a big off-season for the Philadelphia Phillies as the club tries to take the next step forward in their return to contending status.
While controlling owner John Middleton and GM Matt Klentak will certainly be trying to woo familiar big names such as Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, they will also be exploring any other option possible to improve the roster.
One of the less conventional options will be the international market. There will be no Shohei Ohtani available this winter. However, there may be another Japanese player available who could help the Phillies step forward in the 2019 season.
Yusei Kikuchi is a 27-year-old left-hander who is an eight-year veteran of the Seibu Lions of the Japanese Pacific League. Kikuchi has a career 73-48 mark with a 2.82 ERA and 1.176 WHIP, allowing just 830 hits over 1,028.1 innings across 162 games, 157 of those as starts. The southpaw also carries a 919/379 K:BB ratio.
Jon Heyman of Fancred Sports reported today that he “is expected to make the leap to the majors next year, and he should draw extensive interest. Most teams have been to Japan to see him this year.” Heyman listed the Phillies among those MLB teams with interest.
Heyman quoted a scout on Kikuchi’s repertoire and his potential fit in a big-league rotation:

“…he’s a good lefty who throws at 92-93 mph with a cutter, a slider and good straight change. He’s a solid three (third starter), maybe better than that.”

In a piece on the Arizona Diamondbacks attempt to sign Japanese high school pitcher Shumpei Yoshikawa back in late August, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic for USA Today wrote that Kikuchi “was said to be close to signing with a major league club out of high school in 2009 but ultimately decided not to, in part because of advice from his high school coach.”

The Phillies could use at least one quality addition to their starting rotation next year to slot in between Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta. That would theoretically leave Vince VelasquezNick Pivetta, and Zach Eflin to battle for the fourth-fifth starter roles.
Whether Kikuchi fits the profile of a #2 starter, which is what the Phillies could really use, is debatable. However, he could be expected to at least give them another #3 level arm, which would still be valuable.
Expect this to be a busy off-season for the Phillies management group. The team was in legitimate contention for most of the season before collapsing over the last seven weeks. That collapse should leave the club’s decision-makers eyes wide open to options such as Kikuchi, Harper, Machado, and a number of other new additions.

2018 MLB Preview and Predictions

The Boys of Summer are set to begin the 2018 season

The crack of a bat ripping a line drive. The pop of a fastball into a catcher’s mitt. Fireworks exploding. Hot dogs steaming.

It’s that time again folks. The start of another season in Major League Baseball.

For the first time in 50 years, all MLB teams will experience Opening Day on the same date. That comes this Thursday, March 28, when 15 games will take place scattered at various times throughout the day and night.

Those first games will begin a regular season that will stretch out over more than six months, leading to the drama of the MLB playoffs as Fall arrives.

Which teams are most likely to reach those playoffs? Which players will stand out over the course of the 162-game MLB regular season?

Each year, I give you my picks for the final standings across each of MLB’s six divisions, as well as my playoff predictions. I also make picks for some of baseball’s most important awards.

A year ago in my 2017 MLB Preview and Predictions piece, I correctly picked the winners in five of those six divisional races. The biggest letdown from those picks was for the San Francisco Giants to edge out the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West. The Giants collapsed to a last place finish after winning three World Series crowns in the previous seven seasons.

I had the Washington Nationals beating the Boston Red Sox in seven dramatic games a year ago. As we know now, it was the Houston Astros beating the Dodgers in six to capture their first-ever world championship.

So now it’s time to make my team picks and my awards predictions for the upcoming 2018 MLB season. Would love to hear your own picks in the comments section below this piece. Here we go again, baseball fans.

2018 NATIONAL LEAGUE AWARD WINNERS

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Kris Bryant, Chicago
Contenders: Corey Seager LAD, Bryce Harper WAS, Nolan Arenado COL, Paul Goldschmidt ARZ
CY YOUNG AWARD: Stephen Strasburg, Washington
Contenders: Clayton Kershaw LAD, Max Scherzer WAS, Noah Syndergaard NYM
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Lewis Brinson, Miami
Contenders: Jack Flaherty STL, Ronald Acuna ATL, Scott Kingery PHI, Nick Senzel CIN
MANAGER OF THE YEAR: Craig Counsell, Milwaukee
Contenders: Joe Maddon CHC, Dave Roberts LAD, Dave Martinez WAS, Gabe Kapler PHI

COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Noah Syndergaard
Contenders: Adam Eaton WAS, Mark Melancon SF, Homer Bailey CIN

2018 AMERICAN LEAGUE AWARD WINNERS

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Francisco Lindor, Cleveland
Contenders: Giancarlo Stanton NYY, Carlos Correa HOU, Mike Trout LAA, Mookie Betts BOS

CY YOUNG AWARD: Chris Sale, Boston
Contenders: Corey Kluber CLE, Luis Severino NYY, Justin Verlander HOU, Chris Archer

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles
Contenders: Dustin Fowler OAK, Gleyber Torres NYY, Francisco Mejia CLE, Chance Sisco BAL

MANAGER OF THE YEAR: Alex Cora, Boston
Contenders: Aaron Boone NYY, TerryFrancona CLE, A.J. Hinch HOU, John Gibbons TOR

COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Michael Brantley CLE
Contenders: Doug Fister TEX, Miguel Cabrera DET, Francisco Liriano DET

2018 MLB DIVISIONAL & WILDCARD PREDICTIONS

NL EAST: Washington, Philadelphia, Atlanta, New York, Miami

NL CENTRAL: Chicago, Milwaukee, Saint Louis, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati

NL WEST: Los Angeles, Colorado, San Francisco, Arizona, San Diego

NL WILDCARDS: Milwaukee, Colorado

AL EAST: Boston, New York, Toronto, Baltimore, Tampa Bay

AL CENTRAL: Cleveland, Minnesota, Detroit, Kansas City, Chicago

AL WEST: Houston, Los Angeles, Seattle, Texas, Oakland

AL WILDCARDS: New York, Los Angeles

2018 MLB PLAYOFFS & WORLD SERIES PREDICTIONS

As stated at the top of this article, a year ago I had the Washington Nationals finally breaking through to win the franchise first-ever World Series by edging out the Boston Red Sox. I genuinely believe that making that exact same prediction this season would be just as valid. It would also be just as likely to go another way entirely.
A major development will come as the summer rolls on, and the impending free agency of superstar Bryce Harper becomes more and more realistic. At some point, the powers-that-be with the Nationals may have to actually entertain trade offers for their outfielder, or risk losing him for nothing later this Fall.
If Harper stays and is both healthy and focused come October, the Nats are my pick. But that is way too questionable at this point. So let’s call it the Chicago Cubs as winners of their second NL Pennant in three years.
Over the in AL, the defending World Series champion Houston Astros are the cream of the crop until someone proves differently. The Bosox and Yankees will do a Battle Royale in the AL East, and both could be good enough to dethrone the Astros. Same can be said of the Tribe in the Central. Still, I’m taking Houston to repeat in the American League.
The 2018 World Series would then be a battle between the winners of the last two Fall Classics. There is an old saying in sports that goes “you gotta beat the champ if you wanta be the champ.” I just think that Houston is too good for that to happen.
Given health, the Houston Astros will defeat the Chicago Cubs in five games in the 2018 World Series. After never having won a title, the Astros will make it back-to-back World Series crowns. They would become the first team to repeat since the 1998-2000 Yankees won three in a row.

There you have it, my 2018 Major League Baseball preview and predictions. Again, feel free to leave your own picks in the comments section below. Play ball!

Phillies Andy MacPhail right not to spend money on roster

Phillies President of Baseball Operations Andy MacPhail

Andy MacPhail has just begun his third off-season as President of Baseball Operations with the Philadelphia Phillies organization.

First hired by the Phillies as an assistant to Pat Gillick in June 2015, MacPhail has been an inside observer to the workings of the team as it finished with 63, 71, and 66 wins over the last three seasons.

Going back even further, the Phillies and their fans have now suffered through five consecutive losing campaigns. Not just barely losing, where your team is competitive. The Phillies best finish in that stretch was 16 games below the .500 mark.

It has been a long, dark period made even less palatable by the fact that it followed the greatest decade in franchise history. From 2001-11, the Phillies fielded just one loser, and that 2002 team finished just a game below the .500 mark.

Most fans, though frustrated, understood the circumstances that led to this current losing stretch. Our heroes of the previous decade pretty much all aged out together. Injuries cut short a few careers. A few poor decisions exacerbated matters.

The reality was that the Phillies needed to rebuild their farm system, developing a group of players who could form the next core of a winning ball club. That was going to take a few years.

Well, a few years have passed. The Phillies have indeed rebuilt that farm system. In the opinions of most respected evaluators, they have indeed developed a core group capable of special things in the coming years.

Despite the final standings, a number of those young players stepped up big in the 2017 season. The club played 23-19 ball over the last month and a half of the season as more of the kids were moved into prominent roles.

So when MacPhail sat down in front of the press in early October to discuss the Phillies off-season strategy, hope was in the air. It appears that “rebuilding” is over, or nearing completion.

Many fans and scribes believe that with just a couple of key additions, especially in the pitching rotation, the Phillies might even be able to push for a 2018 Wildcard playoff berth. Was the hierarchy of the team on board, ready to make a real push to start winning again?

My philosophy hasn’t changed,” MacPhail said per Ryan Lawrence of The Philly Voice. “There are times when you’re going to have to dive into that pool and just take a risk. But it’s not my favorite place to be. We get inundated with stories across the game about how everybody is looking for starting pitching. Just get two quality starters, and we’ll be all set. Well, you might as well look for a unicorn at the same time. It’s tough. You don’t want to be paying for past performance.”

The cumulative message in MacPhail’s presser was that the Phillies are going to be spending money this off-season, just not on immediate improvements to the roster. Instead, there will be improvements to the ballpark and to the behind-the-scenes organization, such as the analytics staff.

Lawrence also reported in his piece, however, that according to MacPhail, principal owner John Middleton is not necessarily on board.

When asked how Middleton and the ownership group responded to the idea of not spending on roster improvements, MacPhail stated: They did not react extraordinarily well in the beginning. Ultimately, they’re OK with it with one proviso: that if an opportunity presents itself, we do not exclude it. They understand the program.

Since the press conference, MacPhail’s statements and position have met with a mostly negative reaction from that frustrated fan base. It has also prompted some criticism from those in the press.

Jack McCaffery of the Delaware County Daily Times was perhaps the most direct. McCaffery called the team president’s message “nonsense”, and characterized as “unacceptable” his position to spend on the park but not on the players. McCaffery opened his piece as follows:

“With the chance to use the Phillies’ slight, late-season, youth-driven improvement to inspire renewed fan excitement, Andy MacPhail instead made a recent retreat to the organization’s most humiliating modern-era moment.
Though the team president didn’t reprise the classic Bill Giles lament that he is running a small-market operation, MacPhail projected an identical message.”

While I may not be at the ballpark on a daily basis, I don’t need to be in order to have an educated, informed opinion on the Phillies roster and their organizational decision-making process.

As a Phillies fan for 47 seasons now, I have seen many ups and downs. There have been two glorious World Series titles, five National League pennants, 11 NL East crowns on the good side of the ledger.

More than half (24) have been losing seasons on the other side. This year’s team was the 12th Phillies ball club that I watched through a season in which they finished at least 20 games below that .500 mark.

As well as anyone, I understand the frustration. However, I don’t join in what I see now as a somewhat misguided rush to win in the short term. I want to win for the long term. I want another decade run, at least.

MacPhail was specifically alluding to the current off-season crop of available free agents when he spoke of keeping Middleton’s wallet closed for now.

That current crop includes a pair of arms that would be categorized by many as “aces”, #1 starter-level arms. Those would be Yu Darvish and Jake Arreita.

Beyond that, there are a number of interesting arms of various levels, all proven big league starter types. These include C.C. Sabathia, John Lackey, Francisco Liriano, Alex Cobb, Andrew Cashner, and former Phillies starter Jeremy Hellickson.

Luring one of the two aces here by overpaying them, something that would most certainly need to happen in order to get them to choose the last-place Phillies over a contender, and adding one or two of the second-tier arms would absolutely improve the odds of a 2018 postseason run.

However, you aren’t getting either of those aces on a one-year contract. You aren’t even likely to get them on a three-year deal. You’re probably talking about a five year contract, minimum. Arrieta made $16.5 million and Darvish made $11 million this year. You can bet on them seeking, and likely getting, a five-year deal worth a total of $100 million or more.

Both pitchers are now 31 years old. Arrieta will turn 32 before the 2018 season opens. That is far from old in the real world. But you are committing big chunks of your budget to either arm through the 2022 campaign. MacPhail is not willing to do that, and I believe that he is right.

Spending $100 million or more on baseball players already in their 30’s is a fool’s contract in the modern game. It might work out once in awhile. But the vast majority of the time, you will be lucky to get a couple of good years before being saddled with three or more years of a contract albatross hanging around your club’s neck.

In a revealing piece on this topic back in 2013, Jonah Keri for Grantland told us to “beware the $100 million MLB man.”

if you want to avoid making a $240 million mistake you’ll regret for a decade, the answer’s simple: Assemble a bottomless well of homegrown talent and hire a GM with enough clout to talk his billionaire boss out of doing anything rash.

If the Phillies were already a proven contender, and they had plenty of budget room, maybe things are different. But that is not the case. This young group still has to prove that they are for real over the length of a full season.

MacPhail believes, and I am not sure that he is wrong, that the Phillies will not repeat the recent losing campaigns in 2018, even without a big outlay of cash to free agents.

If the youngsters are as good as we all believe them to be, if those last six or seven winning weeks were not an aberration, then 2018 will indeed be much more exciting.

And if that does indeed turn out to be the case, if the Phillies are hanging around the .500 mark at mid-season, there is nothing to preclude them going after a big ticket arm and/or bat as next year’s trade deadline approaches.

There is one interesting case that appears could meet the Middleton proviso of being able to pursue an opportunity. That would be the case of Japanese phenom Shohei Otani.

Otani is just 23 years old. He has been compared to Babe Ruth, and called “the world’s best player who isn’t in the majors.” It has been said that Otani has “the kind of extraordinary talent that could change the sport” due to his outstanding performances as both a pitcher and hitter.

The Phillies would be joined by at least a dozen other clubs in Major League Baseball in bidding on the young wunderkind. But the fact is that based on age and position, he perfectly fits what the club should be looking for at this time. He is that “opportunity presenting itself” of which Middleton speaks.

Short of a successful Otani bid, I am on board with the Phillies heading into the 2018 season with their current crop of youngsters. I believe they will be much better next year, that it will prove to be the real beginning of a step forward.

I also believe that the Phillies are on the verge of spending big. Not now. Not this off-season. But perhaps at that 2018 trade deadline. Certainly no later than next off-season.

I do not believe that MacPhail is dooming Phillies fans to a repeat of 2013-17 any longer. The kids are here, and they are good. MacPhail and I, and you as well if you are honest, believe they are ready to shine. If they do, then they will get help. It’s almost time. Almost.

Japanese Star Ohtani Wants to Play in MLB by 2018

The top star player in Japanese baseball, Shohei Otani, has announced publicly that he wishes to perform for one more season in his homeland before making the move to Major League Baseball.
Otani will turn 23 years old in July of 2017. He would likely be directly affected by terms of the new Collective Bargaining Unit between MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association.
Under the newly negotiated terms, MLB teams may not sign a player for more than $5 million until they reach age 25. It has been estimated that a player of Otani’s talents would fetch upwards of $250-300 million if he were an unfettered free agent.

WHO IS OTANI?

Just one month ago in the New York Post, MLB insider Joel Sherman quoted an unnamed scout on Otani.:
“I actually think the guy might get a $300 million deal. That is how special a talent he is. He has power No. 1 starter stuff…throwing 99 [mph] in the eighth inning. His secondary stuff is unhittable. He is big and loose. His fastball is electric and his curve, cutter and split are all 70s [on the 20-80 scouting scale].
“And I think he is getting better as a hitter. I think an American hitting coach teaches him to turn on the ball more and he can be a 45-homer guy. He has Darryl Strawberry power…the face of a franchise. He is a big, handsome guy and when he plays baseball you cannot take your eyes off of him.”
Because of the new CBA terms, speculation was running rampant last week that Otani would likely remain in Japan at least through the 2018 season.
Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports was the first to speculate that there could be ways around this situation for a player of Otani’s caliber.
So what’s all the excitement, you might ask? Well, I’m assuming that if you have read this far, you already have heard of Otani. But let’s not assume. You know what Felix Unger said about assuming. (If you don’t, maybe never heard of Felix, check out the following video.)

OTANI EMERGES AS A HITTING STAR

Otani is only the most exciting Japanese ballplayer in years. He is considered at least as talented as the great Yu Darvish, only Otani has another element to his game.
Considered the best pitcher on the planet who was not performing in MLB, Otani was given an opportunity in this past season to use a bat on a regular basis.
During the 2016 season, Otani served not only as a pitcher, but also as a Designated Hitter with Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters of the NPB Pacific League.
In 382 plate appearances, Otani hit for a .322/.416/.588 slash line with 22 homers and 18 doubles. He produced 67 RBI and scored 65 runs.
In addition to those DH duties, Otani has also appeared in 62 games as an outfielder during his professional career.

OTANI ON THE MOUND

On the mound, the 6’4″ right-hander (he bats lefty) went 10-4 with a 1.86 ERA and 0.957 WHIP this past season. He allowed just 89 hits over 140 innings with a 174/45 K:BB ratio.
Since making his pro debut at age 18 in 2013, Otani has appeared in 80 games on the mound, 77 of those as a starter. He has allowed just 371 hits over 517.2 innings with 595 strikeouts.
Raw numbers don’t impress you enough? This past summer, Otani won the Home Run Derby at the Japanese All-Star Game, and then threw the fastest pitch in league history.
For his performances this year, Otani was named as a “Best Nine”, the Japan baseball version of a season-ending all-star, at both the pitcher and DH spots. He was also named the Most Valuable Player of the Pacific League, and led Nippon-Ham to the Japan Series championship. He is a 3x NPB All-Star.
Otani throws a four-seam fastball that sits regularly in the mid-upper 90’s, but which has topped out at 102 mph. He has a strong slider as well, throws a forkball, and mixes in a developing curve.

OTANI MAY BE POSTED EARLY

Now comes word that Nippon is considering posting him early, possibly in anticipation of such an “Otani waiver” or change to those posting rules. The player has made no bones about his desire to test himself in MLB sooner rather than later.
“There’s no change in my longtime desire to go there,” he said to the Japan Times, per a recent piece by Anthony McCarron for the New York Daily News“I’m playing now with thoughts of wanting to do it someday and produce results.”
Otani would become an outright free agent following the 2021 season. At that point he would be 27 years old. However, he can become a free agent at any point moving forward should Nippon post him.
“We discussed the possibility of me going,” he said per a report at ESPN. “… The club will respect my wishes whenever I decide I want to go.”
That same ESPN report includes a Otani quote from the Japan Times: “First I will give 100 percent for the Fighters next year to be Japan’s best again. I’ll put my soul into it.”
Fans of Major League Baseball will not have to wait until 2018 or beyond to watch him perform against big leaguers, however. Otani is expected to lead the Japanese team in next spring’s World Baseball Classic.

MANY CLUBS WOULD BE IN ON OTANI

If the 2017 season is indeed the final one for the Japanese phenom, you can expect a number of MLB clubs to be involved in bidding for his services.
Included among those bidding teams would be some of the game’s biggest traditional spenders, and those in the best financial positions. The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox would certainly be involved.
Other teams expected to become involved in bidding on Otani would include the Philadelphia Phillies, Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, and San Francisco Giants. Every big league club is going to have to evaluate the possibility of getting involved.
Whoever lands Otani is likely going to have to offer him the opportunity to hit and possibly play the field. In the AL, the DH spot could be used. In the NL, playing the outfielder part-time or in a platoon would work.
Watching how this situation involving the posting of Shohei Otani develops over the next year is going to be fascinating. And when he does finally arrive in America, how will he actually perform? It appears that we are going to find out, well before this decade is out.