Chatter has grown among the MLB community about Japanese duel-threat superstar Shohei Otani, who is expected to join the MLB next season. Could the Dodgers possibly be a match for Otani if he comes to play in the USA?
Shohei Otani is Japan’s brightest star right now. Otani is a rare talent that features promising production from both the offensive and the pitching aspects of the game. Otani who is 22-years-old hit .322 with 22 home runs and 67 RBI last season in the Japan League. In addition to those great offensive numbers, he also had a pitching record of 10-4 with a 1.86 ERA in 20 starts for the Nippon Ham Fighters last season. Otani won the Pacific League MVP and has gained the attention of several MLB scouts. So what does this have to do with the Dodgers?
Andrew Friedman and Orel Hershiser were accompanied by six other members of the organization and watched Otani as he threw a 58-pitch bullpen session and went on to go 3-3 with a walk during the game, according to Kazuto Yamazaki of Beyond the Box Score.
Otani plays for the Nippon Ham Fighters in the Japanese League, which happens to be Yu Darvish’s former team. Reports have emerged that Otani is said to “idolize” Yu Darvish and very much would love to play with him if he were to move to the MLB.
While Darvish was a member of the Texas Rangers, the Rangers were long considered the favorite to land Otani if he would become a free agent in 2018. The Dodgers were always in the mix of Otani, but now with Darvish as a member of the Dodgers, perhaps this could make the Dodgers the favorites to sign this young two-way player.
The Dodgers are limited to only offering a bonus over $300,000 in this upcoming 2017-2018 international free agent cycle due to past commitments. But if Otani wants to play alongside his mentor Yu Darvish and wants to play on the West Coast, who know’s what could happen.
There’s certainly a lot of question revolving around this story. For one, we don’t know if Otani will even make the move to play in the MLB during the 2018 offseason. Also, Darvish is a free agent after this season so it’s still yet to be seen if the Dodgers will elect to resign him, holding onto their leverage with Otani.
Nothing is certain, but it could be a good time to kick the idea around about the Dodgers potentially bringing in the top international prospect to add to this young core that the team already has. It’s encouraging to see the Dodgers front office continue to look into the international player pool to improve the club beyond this season. The Dodgers are no strangers to the international free agents as they’ve signed Hyun-Jin Ryu, Yadier Alvarez and most recently Kenta Maeda. Otani provides a lot of unknowns, but the idea of having the “Japanese Babe Ruth” would be pretty fun to watch in Dodger blue.