Shohei Otani, a two-way player from Japan, will soon be signed to a contract and once he does, he will remain a two-way player. Otani has spent the last five seasons playing for the Nippon Ham Fighters in the Japanese Professional League. He has a 42-15 record over that span with a 2.52 E.R.A. and 624 strikeouts in 543 innings. He also has a .286 batting average with 48 homers and 166 runs batted in. I don’t think major league baseball has ever seen someone like him before. He is potentially a franchise player, a term used more often in basketball.
More than franchise, he could end the pampering of pitchers and inspire kids to dream of being baseball’s Jekyll and Hyde.
What makes the situation even more exciting is that he can’t be signed for more than a minimum amount of money due to this or that in the new CBA. I think it’s somewhere around 3.25 million. He is 23 years young. This opens the door to every team.
In an unprecedented twist, Otani’s agent sent a questionnaire to all 30 teams, asking them to explain why their team and city is the best fit for Otani. There are seven questions or requests.
1. An evaluation of Shohei’s talent as a pitcher and/or a hitter
2. Player development, medical, training and player performance philosophies and capabilities
3. Major League, Minor League, and Spring Training facilities
4. Resources for Shohei’s cultural assimilation
5. A detailed plan for integrating Shohei into the organization
6. Why the city and franchise are a desirable place to play
7. Relevant marketplace characteristics
This is unique. This suggests concern for a 23 year old kid about to take a journey into a foreign country. It rearranges the priority. I hope the Brewers get him.
Dear Shohei Otani,
Milwaukee is a small market city, totally out of the spotlight. The success we enjoyed last year pushed our rebuild phase up a few notches. We are young and enjoyed being in the playoff hunt till the last day of the season. We aim to compete in 2018, to battle for the NL Central title. We want that World Series. We have past dealings with Japanese born players, most recently Norichika Aoki who we signed as a free agent in 2012. He played two seasons with the Brewers. The city embraced him.
There are a number of Japanese restaurants in Milwaukee including Kanpai Izakaya. There are also cultural centers and festivals dedicated to Japanese culture.
We could skip the ambassador talk and send Mr. Otani a few sexy baseball haikus that integrate Lake Michigan with Miller Park and being on the Brewers.
I’m dreaming because Otani will probably pick an American League team where he can serve as a DH when not pitching.
Regardless, he is a once in a life time phenom. Sure, he’s from Japan and unproven, but at 3.25 million, there’s not much to lose, not in baseball cents anyway. Rumors are swirling. The courting has no doubt already begun. He will be posted in the next few weeks and then most likely be signed before Christmas.
Too bad Otani and/or his agent don’t make their address public. We could flood them with mail. That might turn the tide.