Shohei Otani will leave Japan after this season, as he will be posted this winter in hopes of playing in the majors in 2018, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.
Otani can be posted in November, when teams will have four days to bid on him with their international signing bonus pool. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman scouted Otani in late August, per the NY Post's George A. King III.
"He's definitely intriguing,'' manager Joe Girardi told reporters Wednesday. "Obviously, I haven't really seen him. But you hear reports on him."
On the question of having Otani both hit and pitch in the same season, Girardi said it'd be something he'd have to consider going forward.
"I was asked, 'Could a guy pitch and DH some?'" Girardi said. "It's possible. You'd be concerned a little bit the day before his start, but it does create a unique situation where if he's able to DH, it kind of opens up another spot on your roster. To me, if you want go to a six-man rotation, it becomes a lot easier."
The 23-year-old sensation is bound to be a hot commodity this offseason as he may leave Japan to enter the MLB. Many teams will be interested in Otani, who is both a great hitter and pitcher. According to the Yahoo report, Otani will only be able to fetch $10.1 million.
The Dodgers have scouted Otani while the Red Sox reportedly have interest in him as well.
The highest amount the Yankees can offer Otani as a signing bonus at the moment is about $8 million, which is due to his age and the terms of the MLB's collective bargaining agreement. The only way to increase that dollar amount would be to acquire other team's international pool money in a trade.
In 51 games at the plate with Nippon this season, the slugger has a .346/.416/.574 slash line with seven homers and 28 RBIs. While he's been limited to just two starts on the mound this year, he owns a 2.60 ERA with a 10.4 strikeout-per-nine rate over 522 1/3 career innings.
Otani is certainly an immense talent, but it will be interesting to see if he'll be able -- or even allowed -- to maintain the rigors of pitching and hitting at the major league level.
The Yankees can certainly utilize Otani from either side of the ball. If Otani's power translates to MLB, even at 80 percent of what he's generated in Japan, his potential production combined with his discounted salary is alluring when compared to the nine-figure commitment required to obtain such a player via free agency. Of course, the Yankees would also have interest in a pitcher who lights up the radar gun while striking out batters at will.
Otani has stated he would like to continue to hit and pitch. While the investment will not be as high as with other Japanese players because he is hitting the market under constrained monetary rules, I suspect the team that signs him might eventually persuade Otani to stick with the stronger facet, whatever that may end up being. If Otani is as good as advertised while balancing both sides of the ball, imagine how impressive he could be if he concentrated on one.
Seemingly, if Otani wants to still pitch, he could sign with a National League club and get an opportunity to hit on his start days. That's the easiest compromise. Such a benefit will obviously be unavailable with an American League club because of the designated hitter. I personally do not see a team allowing a pitcher to veer from the strict schedules starting pitchers maintain. I suppose Otani could be used as an occasional reliever in either league, but again, he would have to commit enough time to hitting and pitching in a league undeniably more difficult than he is used to.