Report: Otani expected to be posted in 2018, wants to pitch in majors

It appears Major League Baseball is going to get a look at Shohei Otani in 2018 after all, as the 23-year-old Japanese sensation is expected to be posted by the Nippon Ham Fighters, according to Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Otani, who has made a name for himself due to his prolific skills as both a hitter and a pitcher, announced he prefers to begin his major-league career on the mound.

A handful of major-league scouts have flocked to Japan in recent weeks to get a look at Otani. In his appearance on Monday, Otani delivered an epic performance on the mound, touching 101.3 mph while tossing 5 2/3 shutout innings.

If and when he is posted, due to the new international spending rules, the transition will be difficult but also extremely interesting. Because Otani is under 25 years old, he’s subjected to a hard cap meaning he won’t be able to sign a big money deal until he’s of age.

Any team would have to pay the Fighters a $20-million posting fee and because he’s preparing to leave Japan before the age of 25, he could earn anywhere from $300,000 to approximately $10 million.

Either way, his suitors will be plenty. He’s already received significant interest from big market teams such as the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox – who will both have approximately $8 million in international bonus money – the Los Angeles Dodgers and, as Shulman notes, the San Francisco Giants.

Widely referred to as the next Babe Ruth, the 6-foot-3 Otani has hit .346/.416/.574 with seven home runs and 27 RBIs in 51 games this season with the Fighters. He’s only made two starts this year as a pitcher, but has combined to strike out 549 batters with a 2.23 ERA in 66 starts since 2014.

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