In an interview with CBS' long-time news network 60 Minutes, highly touted Japanese superstar Shohei Otani said that despite current CBA regulations, he will come to the United States and sign with a MLB team following the end of the 2017 season. The move would lose Otani roughly $200 million.
Otani, dubbed Japan's "Babe Ruth", is a 22-year old two-way player who pitches and plays in the outfield for the Nippon Ham Fighters of the Japanese Baseball League. In 2016, Otani posted the best ERA and best OPS in the league with a 1.86 ERA and a 1.004 OPS.
As a pitcher, Otani is electric, as he possesses a fastball that can reach 102.5 MPH, which is a record in Japan, with a forkball, curveball, and slider to accompany it. But he is just as gifted as a hitter, slashing .322/.416/.588 as an outfielder and a designated hitter in 2016, including crushing 22 home runs and driving in 67 runners.
During the 2016 MLB off-season, many teams were ready for Otani to be posted, much like Kenta Maeda the previous year, but that did not happen. Due to new CBA rules, Otani is unable to sign a triple-figure contract due to his age, despite his ability. The rule, which raised the age limit for international signees and only allows teams to sign international players at just $5 million a year, initially meant that Otani would be unable to come to America until the 2019 season, when he turns 25. However, it appears he will bypass that, but sadly, he will not make as much as he would have hoped for.
With prior CBA rules, Otani was projected to make up to $200 million, $45 million more than Masahiro Tanaka and over $100 million more than Kenta Maeda, who signed an 8 year deal worth $25 million prior to the 2016 season. Incentives in Maeda's deal made the total deal worth around $92 million, but it is unclear if Otani would be able to garner that much of an incentive bonus.