It's actually happening!
The legend of 23-year-old Japanese phenom Shohei Otani continues to grow with each massive home run he hits and every filthy fastball he whips over the plate. Already a three-time All-Star in Japan's Nippon Pacific League, Otani has quickly proven that he is worth every bit of the hype that he has received over his young and budding career.
The question that was left on the table, however, is if Otani would make the switch to Major League Baseball next season, leaving millions on the table to sign and forgoing his potentially record-breaking signing eligibility as a true free agent.
For those who aren't night owls, big news: Shohei Otani is coming to MLB in 2018. All relevant details here. Column: https://t.co/M1DrkhAsKi— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) September 13, 2017
Well, yes he will.
The news broke overnight about Otani's gutsy and admirable decision to dismiss what could be an unforeseen signing bonus on the international level. Instead, Otani could possibly start somewhere near the league minimum.
This changes everything. Teams like the Cubs and Dodgers that were significantly restricted by their international bonus pools before this decision? Very much in the race now.
Those two squads will be limited to just $300,000 offer ceilings, but for Otani, a man who nearly signed with the Dodgers out of high school at 18, won't be factoring money into his call at all.
It's simply Otani wanting to come to the big leagues so badly that he'd go anywhere he ultimately chooses at whatever price they can offer.
Can’t think of a free agency as fascinating as Otani’s will be. Think about it: Free agency where money almost literally isn’t a factor. 5/5— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) September 13, 2017
Dubbed "The Japanese Babe Ruth" for his abilities both at the plate and on the mound, most experts predict Otani will be serve as a player that this generation of baseball fans simply haven't seen before.
Otani's free agency will be one of the most exciting and unpredictable sweepstakes that the league has ever seen, and as Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports points out, this situation is unique in the sense that salary cap and spending ability will not play a major factor.
The idea that he won’t sign with X team because of spending restrictions is fallacious. EVERY team is restricted from spending on him. 3/5— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) September 13, 2017
It's an exciting time to be a baseball fan.