Japanese star Shohei Otani likely coming to Major League Baseball next season

Lynette Rowe
September 13, 2017

Shohei Otani, a 23-year-old right-handed pitcher and left-handed hitter dubbed the Japanese Babe Ruth, is expected to head to Major League Baseball in 2018, U.S. media reported.

Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka thinks his countryman deserves a chance to be successful or fail doing the double role as a big leaguer before being judged one way or the other.

"We discussed the possibility of me going", Otani said in December.

"I was asked, 'Could a guy pitch and DH some?'" Girardi said. "And I think that's great". He can throw 102 miles per hour and bash monster home runs. But it's where you draw that line of being successful.

Otani, 23, plays for the Nippon-Ham Fighters of the Nippon Professional Baseball League.

The news comes a day after half of MLB's 30 teams were at Sapporo Dome watching Otani throw 5-2/3 scoreless innings in his third start of the season and pick up his first win this year as the Fighters blanked the Rakuten Eagles 7-0.

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Under the old rules he would have been considered a free agent at the age of 23, and could have signed a contract with a U.S. team worth $150 million or more. If he Fighters plan to post Otani after this season, he would be subject to the global bonus pool under the new Major League Baseball collective bargaining agreement.

"As players we have to go by the rules that Major Leagues makes, so there's nothing really that we can do about it", Tanaka said.

Shohei Otani is likely to leave Japan and sign with a Major League Baseball team after this season, multiple reports in Japanese media said Wednesday, a move that would cost the 23-year-old pitcher and outfielder more than $100 million.

The Yankees even traded for extra bonus poll money this summer, bumping their allotment from $4.875 million to $8 million, but four signings of Latino prospects cost the organization $3.85 million of that.

"As long as I have enough money to be able to play baseball and am enjoying baseball, that's all I'm asking for right now", Otani said. "To me, if you want go to a six-man rotation, it becomes a lot easier".

Otani, commonly referred to as the Japanese Babe Ruth, hit.322 with 22 home runs and 67 RBIs in 104 games and had a 1.86 ERA and 174 strikeouts in 140 innings last season.

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