Shohei Otani will never be a New York Met

Otani HitterWhen people think of baseball in Japan, most think of the legendary Ichiro Suzuki, Hideki Matsui, or even New York Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka. Some may also remember busts such as Tsuyoshi Shinjo, Takashi Kashiwada, and Kaz Matsui. But there may be a new star rising from Japan, and he goes by the name of Shohei Otani. At age 22 Otani is quickly becoming the most intriguing international prospect, and for good reason.

On the mound, Otani pitched to a cool 10-4 record with a 1.86 ERA and averaged 11.2 strikeouts per nine innings. While these numbers on the mound may stand out, they only tell half the story. In 382 appearances at the dish, Otani slugged 22 home runs while hitting at a .322 average. This earned him the honor of not only the top award for pitching in his league but also the honor of top designated hitter. For these reasons, Otani has been hailed as the Japanese Babe Ruth, due to his due skills. These great comparisons and sparkling numbers have made many believe that Otani will be the next big time international free agent. But we will he ever graze the grasses of Citi Field.

Maybe as a member of a visiting team, he will. There is no chance that the Mets would make a run at Otani, who’s price tag may set an international record. While it would be nice to see a dual talent like Otani on the roster, the Mets simply won’t have space or the money. Otani’s position besides pitcher is outfielder, which we know the Mets currently have a stockpile of. He is also a left-handed batter, which only adds to the fact that there is no room for him in the outfield. As for the mound, the Mets have one of, if not the best young starting rotations in the game. Not only are they talented, but they will soon become expensive. Locking up the rotation mid to long range will cost some major money, sparing none for Otani.

While Otani’s stats from both a pitching and batting perspective are impressive, he only produced those in the year 2016. It is an unknown if Otani can produce consistently yet. At age 22, he is likely to suffer some setbacks, but many believe he will be able to continue the strong stats. It must be remembered though that Otani produced these stats in Japan, and not Major League Baseball. It is unknown if his talent can translate into a successful major league career. It is likely though that if he continues to put up numbers similar to his 2016 season, an MLB team will take a chance on him.

A player like Otani may be better suited in the American League, where there is a designated hitter. This could allow Otani to hit at the DH position, and also be a regular starter. Look for the Yankees to make a push for Otani, a player full of risk and intrigue. While Otani’s inevitable MLB career will be interesting to watch, it won’t be a career adorned in blue and orange.

9 comments for “Shohei Otani will never be a New York Met

  1. March 18, 2017 at 1:13 pm

    He’s gonna be a pricey gamble for some team, without a doubt. You’d like to think a New York club could afford that, but we do have some tremendous pitchers.

    I’d be shocked if he remains a dual player. Read stories no MLB club will let him do both for health/$$ risks.

  2. Sinhalo27
    March 18, 2017 at 1:50 pm

    Agree- not sure we see him in Queens. These Japanese players area a mixed bag so it’s probably better that other teams take those chances… but the Yankees? Hisanori Takahashi was good for the Mets in 2010.

    • Dalton Allison
      March 18, 2017 at 6:36 pm

      I only point out the Yankees because they have a history on spending big for players.

  3. Name
    March 18, 2017 at 2:15 pm

    I bet it kills Bumgarner to see something like this, because in his mind, he thinks he could probably do a dual-role too, but knows he’ll never be able to.

    I don’t think we’ll ever see a dual starter/DH in the majors leagues, as long as the 5 man rotation continues to exist. I’m not sure of Otani’s usage in Japan, but i think it’s able to exist there because they pitch every 7th day instead of every 5th. If you pitch every 5th day, you’d probably want to rest the day after and the day before you pitch, which leaves only the 3rd day as potentially the day you’d hit. In a 7 day period, you could rest days 2 and 6 and still have days 3-5 to be able to hit.

    Another possibility is a position player/RP role. Of course, there are a bunch of complications with this as well. He would have to know how to get warmed up really quickly as he’d only be able to warm up if he’s not about to hit or on the basepaths, and presumably a practice mound would have to be close to the dugout. This would most likely preclude him from being a guy with a “defined” role, but rather a middle innings guy, most likely during the inning after he’s just hit. Or if the manager wants to be really bold, have him start the game as a 1-2 inning guy and then bring in the real SP or piggyback starter after that while shifting Otani to his field role. Of course, this would mean wasting a position player for when Otani is pitching or having to play a pitcher to somewhere in the OF. This dual role would be a NL-only option.

    I think awfully tough to see him as a true dual guy in MLB. At best you’d see a SP who would be an extra bench guy and pinch hits a lot, which makes a lot more sense for the NL rather than AL

  4. Sinhalo27
    March 18, 2017 at 7:05 pm

    Makes sense in that regard. However imo when they didn’t acquire Scherzer, weren’t even in on him at all, that was signal that they were not the same old Yankees… in addition to many other FAs that have come and gone that would’ve filled holes they haven’t been in on since.

    • Dalton Allison
      March 19, 2017 at 11:33 am

      Maybe they aren’t acting like “The Old Yankess” because of their tenacious rebuild. I wouldn’t be surprised if they started spending when they see success.

  5. TexasGusCC
    March 19, 2017 at 1:19 pm

    A couple of thoughts:
    1. The Japanese league is something like AAA, so it’s pretty close to MLB but not quite.
    2. When Yoan Moncada was being showcased, the Mets ran off. This team is not going to stretch itself for Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, or Hank Aaron. The Coupons are the new Charlie Finleys. They signed Cespedes to four years for fear of backlash. The only thing that has ever motivated the Coupons is public relations, and Pfor Alderson it’s the long ball.

    • Name
      March 20, 2017 at 2:29 am

      They also ran off for Rusney Castillo, Yasmany Tomas, Hector Oliveria, Jorge Soler, Alex Guerrero, Erisbel Arruebarrena and thank god they did.

      And while the early returns were good with Puig and Jose Abreu, the final ROI over the entire life the contract probably wasn’t worth the initial risk.

  6. Jimmy P
    March 20, 2017 at 10:16 am

    I think with the way the “Coupons” have spent lately, much of this criticism seems off the mark.

    In fact, I’d almost go the other way while looking at the probability of the Mets being in the action.

    Next season, Bruce at $13 million is gone, and really that’s $13 million that should have never been spent — or, okay, not spend in that way.

    Walker is at $17 million and there’s no guarantee of a return next season. It could be argued that if the Mets could sign a superstar at a different position — 3B, C, CF — then it would be viable to go with Cecchini/Flores/Rivera at 2B. Cabrera will also be around, and doesn’t automatically have to shift to 3B. The 2018 season doesn’t have to amount to handing a big contract to Walker. Without context, it’s hard to say, since he’s a solid player.

    Granderson at $15 million goes away.

    Right there that’s $45 million to reallocate.

    I guess my point is that the Wilpons and SA might be overspending this year and next. We’ll see how they handle Rosario and Conforto next season — and maybe Smith at 1B (I’m dubious) — and maybe at 2B, too. That is, they have a real opportunity to get real value for low salary at up to four positions next season. I don’t see that happening, don’t see them taking on the risk of going that young during an aspirational season, but there’s a number of scenarios where they club has considerable money to play around with. Could easily go after a high-priced free agent. After all, they signed two this off-season.

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