Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Japanese star Otani announces desire to move to MLB

RECOMMENDED READING


OSAKA, Japan (AP) — Highly touted Japanese pitcher-outfielder Shohei Otani announced on Saturday he wants to move to Major League Baseball next season.

"The other day I met with team officials and stated my intentions," Otani said at a press conference. "My request was met with warm words of support so I hope to do my best in America from next year on."

Otani's Japanese club, the Nippon Ham Fighters, said on Friday they will allow Otani to use the posting system this offseason, clearing the way for him to sign with a major league team next season.

Otani, 23, is the reigning Pacific League MVP and was 3-2 with a 3.20 ERA this year. Despite thigh and ankle injuries, he batted .332 in 65 games with 16 doubles, eight homers and 31 RBIs. He had ankle surgery last month.

He has a 42-15 record with a 2.52 ERA and 624 strikeouts in 543 innings over five seasons, and a .286 batting average with 48 homers and 166 RBIs.

Because Otani has less than nine years of service time, Nippon Ham retains his rights and he must go through the posting system to leave.

If MLB, the MLB Players Association and Nippon Professional Baseball agree to a deal that would extend the expired posting agreement through this offseason, the team that Otani signs with would pay the Fighters $20 million. Under MLB's labor contract, his signing bonus is restricted and remaining pool money is limited to a high of $3,535,000.

Under baseball's new collective bargaining agreement, the 23-year-old Otani can only agree to a minor league contract that is subject to signing bonus pools. If added to a big league roster, he would have a salary for about the minimum $545,000 next season and not be eligible for salary arbitration until 2020 at the earliest.

If he was to wait until he is 25 to enter MLB, there would be no restrictions and he likely would get a better deal. But Otani said he wanted to go now rather than wait.

"I am not yet a complete player yet, and I want to go to an environment where I can continue to get better," said Otani. "I felt the same way when I graduated from high school. And it is my strongest reason for wanting to go now."

Otani considered going straight to MLB out of high school but was convinced to sign with the Fighters as they assured him he could play the outfield as well as pitch.

His injury problems this season stemmed from last year's Japan Series when he injured himself running the bases.

Otani, who had ankle surgery last month and is currently undergoing rehabilitation, just completed his fifth season with the Sapporo-based Fighters.

He said during Saturday's press conference that he hopes to be able to continue both batting and pitching.

"Just before I turned professional, I didn't imagine I would be able to do both," Otani said. "But since then, the fans have encouraged it, the coaches helped me, and manager (Hideki) Kuriyama made it possible. That has left me with a strong desire, to keep doing it, not only for me, but for them."

"I don't know if it will be possible, but I want to hear what teams over there say and what kind of situations might be available. Until that process has started, I can't say how it might work out."

(Associated Press Writer Yuri Kageyama contributed to this report from Tokyo)

Comments
American Athletic Conference power rankings, Week 13

American Athletic Conference power rankings, Week 13

Memphis has locked down the West Division.All that's left is to settle the East with Friday's "War on I-4" between UCF and USF.USF has won six of the eight meetings in the rivalry, but the stakes never have been greater. The winner advances to play M...
Updated: 1 hour ago
More attractive landing spot for coaches, UF or FSU?

More attractive landing spot for coaches, UF or FSU?

GAINESVILLE — Unless Chip Kelly has made up his mind by the time you read this, the Gators are still looking for a new football coach.There's a chance the rival Seminoles aren't far behind. Industry insiders are speculating that Texas A&M could...
Updated: 19 minutes ago

EU: states must focus on making economic growth benefit all

The European Union's executive says the bloc should in 2018 focus on making sure that strong economic growth benefits all parts of society through policies targeting jobs growth, investment and reforms
Updated: 2 minutes ago
Gionta trades NHL for shot at representing US at Olympics

Gionta trades NHL for shot at representing US at Olympics

Brian Gionta's decision to pass up playing a 17th NHL season for a shot at representing the United States at the Winter Games is paying off
Updated: 3 minutes ago

AP Top News at 6:09 a.m. EST

AP Top News at 6:09 a.m. EST
Updated: 3 minutes ago
The Latest: Mladic convicted of genocide, sentenced to life

The Latest: Mladic convicted of genocide, sentenced to life

A U.N. court has convicted former Bosnian Serb military chief Gen. Ratko Mladic of genocide and crimes against humanity and sentenced him to life in prison
Updated: 3 minutes ago
The Latest: Mladic convicted of genocide, sentenced to life

The Latest: Mladic convicted of genocide, sentenced to life

A U.N. court has convicted former Bosnian Serb military chief Gen. Ratko Mladic of genocide and crimes against humanity and sentenced him to life in prison
Updated: 3 minutes ago

N. Korea criticizes US over designation as terror sponsor

North Korea has called U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to relist the country as a state sponsor of terrorism a "serious provocation" that justifies its development of nuclear weapons
Updated: 5 minutes ago
The Latest: N.Korea slams US over terror sponsor designation

The Latest: N.Korea slams US over terror sponsor designation

North Korea has called U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to relist the country as a state sponsor of terrorism a "serious provocation" that justifies its development of nuclear weapons
Updated: 11 minutes ago
John McLaughlin talks about his final tour, jam bands, reviving the Mahavishnu Orchestra and more

John McLaughlin talks about his final tour, jam bands, reviving the Mahavishnu Orchestra and more

As you might imagine, quite a lot of thought goes into planning your final tour ever."It's not a light decision to not tour again, but that really is the situation," said John McLaughlin, the guitarist behind legendary jazz-rock fusion outfit the Mah...
Updated: 11 minutes ago