It is about to get very heated in the MLB. As the metaphorical hot stove turns on, there is a certain international prospect who is sparking the burners. His name is Shohei Ohtani, and he has been in the eyesight of most baseball fans around the globe for about a year now. The 23 year old phenom has been dubbed “the Japanese Babe Ruth” by many. But what sets this slugging outfielder apart? Along with the ability to slug balls over the fence, Ohtani has the ability to hurl fastballs at over 100 miles per hour.
I originally wrote about Ohtani earlier in the year when it was unknown when he would enter the MLB spectrum. With a new agreement being made with Nippon Professional Baseball (the Japanese pro league), teams are now able to bid on Ohtani’s services, meaning that he will be on a roster come Opening Day. Teams such as the Yankees, Dodgers, and Cubs are favorites to land the dual-threat star. The Mets, rightfully so, are long-shots to land him.
To start, there is no room for the guy. The outfield is jam packed, especially with Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto coming back for a healthy season. If the Mets are searching for rotational depth, they most likely aren’t going to seek it in Ohtani. Although he is tested in the pro league in Japan, he has not been put against a tough MLB lineup. Is it possible for his career 42-15 record and 2.52 ERA to translate to MLB success? I don’t think the Mets will be the team to test that however.
There are a few saving graces for the potential of the Mets to sign the foreign phenom. To start, the Mets are on an even playing field with every other team competing for his services. The maximum signing bonus Ohtani can, and most definitely will, receive is around $3.5 million. This of course is after posting the fee to talk to him. But this should be seen as a positive, due to the fact that the Mets would be spending the same amount of money on Ohtani that the Yankees or Dodgers would. The fact the money isn’t a huge factor plays a big part here.
In addition to that, it has been rumored that Ohtani does not want to play on a team that already has a Japanese star on the team. That would be huge for the Mets if Ohtani wanted to come to New York. The Yankees recently extended Masahiro Tanaka, meaning that the Mets would be the only team in New York with an opening for a Japanese star. But, rumors are rumors.
The idea of a two way star in baseball is extremely fascinating. Whether or not Ohtani will be allowed to play that way is yet to be seen, but just the fact that he will be in the majors is exciting. Most likely, when he does make that major league debut, it will not be with the Mets.