Manfred: MLB can wait to sign Otani
NEW YORK — Major League Baseball is willing to wait two years for Shohei Otani if the young Japanese star decides the sport’s new labor contract limits his value to an unacceptable level.
“Otani is a great player. We’re always interested in having great players in Major League Baseball,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday. “From my perspective, I’m more concerned about having the right, durable system than whether a player comes this year or two years from now.”
As part of the collective bargaining agreement MLB teams and players agreed to in November, the dividing line for international amateurs and professionals was changed from age 23 with five professional seasons to 25 with six seasons. Because of that, Otani would be subject to signing bonus pools that limit bonuses.
A 23-year-old right-handed pitcher and outfielder, as a professional Otani likely would command more than the current record for a Japanese player, set by pitcher Masahiro Tanaka with a $155 million, seven-year deal from the New York Yankees before the 2014 season.
As of now, the most Otani could get this offseason would be a $3,535,000 signing bonus from Texas or $3.25 million from the Yankees.
Multiple reports in Japanese media Wednesday said Otani is likely to leave Japan and sign with an MLB team after this season.
Otani, the reigning Pacific League MVP, is in his fifth season with the Nippon Ham Fighters.