Just about everyone knows who the number one free agent will be this off-season: twenty-three-year-old Japanese baseball mega-star Shohei Otani.
Once Otani declared his intention to leave Japan’s Nippon Ham Fighters and sign with an American team, virtually every MLB franchise began plotting a path to sign the wildly talented pitcher/slugger.
Shohei Otani’s career stats boarder on the amazing: in five seasons in Japan, his pitching numbers roll out to 534 IP, 614 SO, a 1.081 WHIP and a 2.57 ERA. As an outfielder between pitching starts, Otani has a .287 batting average, an .860 OPS, and a good glove.
Otani’s representatives have strongly hinted that he will want an opportunity to both pitch and hit for whichever MLB team wins his services.
Since there is every indication that Shohei Otani will be a franchise difference-maker, smart teams will do just about anything to sign Otani for 2018.
Enter the San Francisco Giants.
Recently the Giants sent General Manager Bobby Evans and assistant GM Jeremy Shelley to Japan to personally scout Otani. No doubt they’ll rub shoulders with a lot of other MLB front office executives and scouts on the prowl.
But unlike other teams, San Francisco is making it clear they will not do “just about anything” to sign the talented Otani.
In an ineptly-timed interview with the San Francisco Chronicle shortly after GM Evans left for Japan, Giants manager Bruce Bochy declared he just doesn’t see Otani as a two-way player in the National League.
“I don’t think that will work,” Bochy told beat reporter Henry Schulman. “You’re talking more about something that would work in the American League as a DH. There’s a lot of throwing, and wear and tear, and then you have to go out and pitch.”
That should catch Shohei Otani’s eye. And no doubt could potentially shorten the amount of time and money GM Bobby Evans needs to devote to scouting the Japanese superstar.
And what’s all this about D’Backs free agent slugging outfielder J.D. Martinez? He wants to play in right field? Not in AT&T Park he won’t. Now, who’s next…?