Apparently There's A Japanese Phenom Who One Scout Believes Could Be Worth $300 Million
You’re gonna wanna remember this name — Shohei Otani. You’ve obviously read the headline, so you’re probably expecting me to continue that sentence by saying something like, “because he’s gonna be the first $300 million pitcher in the MLB!” No. Fuck that. He’s not.
Here’s the deal; Otani is a 22-year-old outfielder and pitcher who currently plays for the Nippon Ham Fighters of the Japan Pacific League. If you’re not familiar, I can understand you seeing a name like the fucking HAM FIGHTERS and thinking how ridiculous that is, and that it’s likely a joke team in a joke league, but that’s not true at all, actually. Yu Darvish played for the Ham Fighters, and so did former All Star reliever Hideki Okajima. They’re legit. Apparently, so is this dude Otani.
“I actually think the guy might get a $300 million deal,” said a scout who has had multiple looks at the righty pitcher/lefty hitter. “That is how special a talent he is. He has power No. 1 starter stuff. He is throwing 99 [mph] in the eighth inning. His secondary stuff is unhittable. He is big and loose. His fastball is electric and his curve, cutter and split are all 70s [on the 20-80 scouting scale].
“And I think he is getting better as a hitter. I think an American hitting coach teaches him to turn on the ball more and he can be a 45-homer guy. He has Darryl Strawberry power. He is the face of a franchise. He is a big, handsome guy and when he plays baseball you cannot take your eyes off of him.”
Apparently this dude is the next coming of Babe Ruth. But is there a major league team that’s dumb enough to dish out $300 million for an unproven commodity? Seriously. Who in God’s name is going to shell out that kind of money for a pitcher who has faced zero major league hitters? Nobody. If you wanna tell me that after he signs with a major league team that his production over the life of his first contract could be worth $300 million, I still wouldn’t even believe that. But, you think an owner is writing a check that big after all the failed pitchers that have come out of Japan?
Hideki Irabu and Kei Igawa say hello. Daisuke Matsuzaka was a mega flop, too. He had an 18-win season mixed in there, but it was the most fraudulent 18-win season ever. The dude averaged 5.2 innings per start that year, had a 1.32 WHIP, and was out of the major leagues by the age of 33. The aforementioned Darvish has been great when he’s been healthy, but he’s already had Tommy John surgery and has missed games with shoulder, neck, back and quad injuries. The Yankees are having the same issues with Masahiro Tanaka, too. He’s had elbow, forearm and hamstring injuries over the last three years.
I realize that not all pitchers who come out of Japan are built the same. But they have established a track record. Now, does that mean that a team would be stupid to sign Otani when he becomes available next winter? No, of course not. It sounds like he’s incredibly talented. But if anyone actually gives him $300 million, they should be relieved of their duties in baseball. Honestly, I feel the same way even if we’re talking about $200 million. If you pay an unproven commodity what two proven commodities in David Price and Zack Greinke just got paid last offseason, then yikes. That’s all I’ve gotta say.