Major League Baseball, the MLB Players Association and Nippon Professional Baseball have come to an agreement on a new posting system that will finally open the door for Japanese superstar Shohei Otani to make the jump. The next step will be ratification of the agreement by the league’s owners, followed by the Nippon HamFighters officially making Ohtani available.
That means Ohtani could be on the free agent market as early as Dec. 1 and signed by the end of the year. In the meantime, it’s clear that Ohtani is keeping his focus on getting even better as a pitcher and a hitter in hopes that his next team will allow him to remain a two-way player.
According to Jon Morosi, that preparation includes watching tapes of one of MLB’s very best hitters: Bryce Harper.
When I asked Shohei Ohtani to name his favorite players, he first mentioned Ichiro and Yu Darvish. Then he said he likes to watch @Bharper3407 and has studied video of Harper at the plate. @MLB @MLBNetwork
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) November 22, 2017
Don’t let Scott Boras hear this. If he knows the biggest free agent in this winter’s class is studying his top client’s approach at the plate, he might add another $50 million to his demands for Harper’s contract next winter.
Ohtani, 23, is looking to fulfill his dream of playing in MLB. He’ll immediately jump to the top of every free agent list because of his two-way ability. Ohtani has been an elite pitcher in Japan, posting a 2.69 ERA and 624 strikeouts over 543 career innings. Offensively, he’s a .296 career hitter with 48 home runs. He’s coming off back-to-back seasons hitting .322, which signifies his development into an all-around hitter.
When examining those numbers, keep in mind that Ohtani started his professional career at 18 years old. He’s already a phenom, and he’s nowhere near his prime. Of course, a steep curving is to be expected. There’s no guarantee his transition will be smooth or even successful long term, but we think looking up to guys like Ichiro Suzuki and Yu Darvish while studying the likes of Bryce Harper will undoubtedly help.
Beyond that, there should be no shortage of teams that will be willing to take the chance on a player this talented.
Not bad, right?
Whoever signs Ohtani will certainly get a mega-talent. If he’s willing to continue learning and to be a student of the game, there might be no limit to his potential.
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