Man­fred: MLB can wait to sign Otani

Baltimore Sun - - BASEBALL - By Ronald Blum

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.

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