By Lindsey Jones
Texas Rangers Writer
Shohei Otani is set to become one of the most intriguing free agents that MLB has seen in a long time. Otani is only 23 years-old and he can throw 100+ mph right-handed, hit home runs left-handed, and steal a few bases with his legs. Jeff Banister is one manager who has said that if Otani did join the Rangers he would consider using him as a pitcher and a hitter.
Otani’s situation in coming to MLB out of Japan is different than it has been in years past. In 2011 when Yu Darvish came to the states, any team could submit a bid that they are willing to pay to simply negotiate a contract with him. Only the highest bidder could negotiate with him. The bid money would go directly to his Japan team, the Nippon-Ham Fighters. The Rangers ended up posting the highest bid, $51.7 million and then signed Darvish to a six-year $56 million deal, bring the entire investment to nearly $108 million.
Things have changed from the previous posting system to where in order to have a shot at signing Otani, a team must submit paperwork that they are willing to give a $20 million posting fee required to sign him, which every team will probably do. Once teams have agreed to the posting fee, Otani can act as a free agent and negotiate with any team he wants to sign with that posted the money. Another major difference is that now teams are only allowed to offer international free agents the money available under the international signing restrictions. The Associated Press recorded that the Rangers have the most to offer Otani at $3.535 million and the Yankees have the second most to offer at $3.25 million.
It is widely unknown what Otani is looking for in a team, but the Rangers look like a great fit. Jon Daniels has made it clear that he expects the team to win next season and they are not rebuilding. Signing Otani would be a great start to rebuilding a rotation that needs a lot of help. The Rangers have a good relationship with Japan and are familiar with what it takes to bring a player from Japan and make them comfortable in their new surroundings. Being in the American League, they can also offer Otani a chance at pitching and batting DH on some occasions.
There is no doubt the Rangers would love to add Otani to their team, but so would every other MLB team. Jon Daniels has a tough task in trying to convince Otani that Texas is the best place for him.