Japanese MVP Shohei Otani expects to be in Major League Baseball in 2018

Ruben Hill
September 13, 2017

The 23-year-old has been a staple for the Nippon Ham Fighters since he was 18.

Injuries to his ankle and thigh sidelined Otani for two months early this season and kept him off the mound for a stretch in July and August. Through five seasons, Otani has a slash line of.286/.359/.505 with 47 home runs and 163 runs batted in 389 games played.

On Tuesday, Otani pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings in just his third start of the season.

Otani previously said in December, when he signed a one-year, $2.37 million contract with the Fighters, that he could move to Major League Baseball after the 2017 season. "So to me, times you needed to go to a six-man rotation, it becomes a lot easier with that spot open and there's some different things that you could do". "The club will respect my wishes whenever I decide I want to go".

It's surprising that Otani would want to come to the majors this winter, as he's leaving hundreds of millions of dollars on the table due to MLB's new collective bargaining agreement preventing players under 25 years old from being true free agents.

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. Not only will this cost Otani millions of dollars that the likes of Yu Darvish and Daisuke Matsuzaka received upon their arrivals, but it will preclude particular teams from bidding on the player due to their global amateur bonus pools being maxed out.

But by all accounts, Otani doesn't care about the money.

He indicated in an April interview in Sports Illustrated that the money wasn't a major concern.

"Could a guy pitch and DH some? think it's possible, " Girardi said.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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