The Boston Red Sox may be headed to Japan to scout Shohei Ohtani, a dynamic 23-year old prospect believed to be a future superstar.
According to Jon Morosi of MLB.com, 15 teams will be heading to Japan to scout Shohei Ohtani, the sensational 23-year old prospect and hopefully, the Boston Red Sox are one of those teams. Ohtani wants to convince MLB teams that he is ready to succeed at the Major League Baseball level. Teams will be watching his second pitching appearance of the season.
Ohtani was known as the best pitcher in Japan and the Nippon Professional Baseball league last season but in his first start for the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters this season, he allowed four runs over 1 1/3 innings. However, Ohtani has been hampered by ankle and thigh injuries all season so his health going forward is likely the major question for teams.
The 15 MLB teams in attendance want to watch the brilliant right-handed pitcher to assess whether he can truly make it as a pitcher in the MLB. However, if Ohtani cannot make the cut as a pitcher, his hitting has been equally as impressive and teams will be willing to sign him based on those talents alone. In 42 games this season, the left-handed hitter has batted .342/.402/.548.
The Red Sox surely will be one of the fifteen teams in attendance because their number one rival, the New York Yankees are said to be one of Ohtani’s most serious suitors. Earlier this week, Newsday reported that Brian Cashman, general manager of the Yankees, was traveling to Japan to see and evaluate Ohtani first-hand. According to Morosi, the Texas Rangers are also one of Ohtani’s most serious pursuers.
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If both rumors surrounding the Yankees and Rangers are true, it would be hard to believe that Dave Dombrowski, president of baseball operations for the Red Sox, would be sitting this one out. The Red Sox have had a very good history of acquiring foreign-based talent but most of it has come from Latin-based countries.
Many teams are interested in Ohtani because he is 23-years old and that is a significant factor in the Collective Bargaining Agreement regarding foreign-based talent. Because Ohtani isn’t 25-years old and because he does not have at least six years of service time in a recognized foreign league, he is subject to international amateur spending limits if he is to move from NPB to MLB.
An MLB team, like the Red Sox, would have to pay Ohtani’s current team a release fee (most likely the maximum of $20 million) and then also pay Ohtani a signing bonus. The signing bonus must fit under the hard cap of roughly $6 million per team. However, that cap can increase through trades of additional slot allocations.
The Red Sox may not sign Ohtani with teams like the Yankees and Rangers, who have recently traded for additional international signing bonus money, hanging around but they should at least make the trip. Ohtani may be a generational type two-way player that can both pitch and hit at the MLB level and giving up before the bidding war has started would not be a wise move.