Shohei Otani will be the biggest talk of this upcoming offseason. The player who has been called “Babe Ruth” in Japan can pitch at speeds of 100 mph and drive the ball over the outfield fence. Teams are salivating at the opportunity to get a player who could be one of the best players on their team and be the answer to possibly two positional needs, all for a significantly low price because of the new CBA. Every team wants Otani, but there is disagreement on who people believe “deserves” him. Some say he should go to the National League so teams could actually have a valuable hitter in their order since they don’t have the benefits of a designated hitter. Others believe Otani should go to the American League, so on the days he doesn’t pitch, he will DH and not have to worry about overusing his arm.
Currently, it looks like it won’t be about the money, but who can convince Otani that their team gives him the best opportunity to market himself as well as have fun and win. The Los Angeles Angels will have one of the most difficult times persuading Otani to join their team, however. While money isn’t the biggest factor, the Angels have the fifth lowest maximum signing bonus that they can offer Otani of all thirty teams, a low $150,000 while their division rival, the Texas Rangers, have the highest of all MLB teams at $3.535 million.
The other thing that is weighing the Angels down from possibly getting Otani in Los Angeles is the fact they don’t any prominent Japanese players on their roster or from the past nor a strong team that could win a World Series in the next two or three seasons. If the Angels had a talented Japanese player on their roster, then they would possess much more of a chance over teams who only have money. However, the teams with a high signing bonus offer do have a Japanese background of some sort to lure Otani to their team. The New York Yankees have Masahiro Tanaka and retired 2009 World Series hero Hideki Matsui with them for example. One way the Angels could fix this, however, is if they were to sign starting pitcher Yu Darvish. He would give them that star Japanese player that they would need to lure Otani and make up for their lack of a signing bonus.
While the Angels need some free agent signings and get some help for their team this winter, it doesn’t look like any of that will come from Otani. The Angels don’t have any real way of convincing Otani to join the organization. While it looks like Otani will go to the American League, it most likely won’t be in an Angels jersey and the Japanese Babe Ruth will be playing against them in another team’s uniform next season.