Mov­ing on from David yet

New York Daily News - - SPORTS -

ORLANDO — The Mets may throw their hat into the ring for Ja­panese star Sho­hei Otani, mul­ti­ple in­dus­try sources con­firmed Tues­day night. They would join the Yan­kees and other big-mar­ket teams pos­si­bly vy­ing for the right to land the 23-year-old two-way stand­out.

It is also a long shot that the player who is called the Ja­panese Babe Ruth will be lured away from the Red Sox, Yan­kees or Dodgers and end up in Flush­ing, an in­dus­try source said Tues­day night.

But the Mets will def­i­nitely con­sider it when Otani is of­fi­cially on the mar­ket, should that hap­pen.

First and fore­most, MLB has to work out an agree­ment with Ja­panese baseball to ac­tu­ally get Otani here.

The league and the Play­ers As­so­ci­a­tion will have to agree to grand­fa­ther him in un­der the now-ex­pired post­ing sys­tem. That would mean the team that signs Otani would pay $20 mil­lion to his Ja­panese team, the Nip­ponHam Fighters. His long-awaited ar­rival is be­ing held up by this dis­pute, but is ex­pected to be worked out be­fore next month’s Win­ter Meet­ings.

The right-handed pitcher who is also a threat as a left-handed hit­ting out­fielder, will not be able to com­mand the mega con­tracts that other Ja­panese play­ers like Masahiro Tanaka have done in the past.

Un­der the new MLB col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing agree­ment, reached last win­ter, un­de­terred in his at­tempt to re­turn.

“Through this en­tire re­hab process, I have been driven to get back on the field as quickly as I can,” Wright said in an­nounc­ing the back surgery. “. . .With these two surg­eries be­hind me, I hope to be able to put on a Mets uni­form again as soon as pos­si­ble. My de­sire to play is as strong as ever.”

The Mets see pick­ing up the op­tion on As­drubal Cabr­era ear­lier this month as their im­me­di­ate an­swer at third base. That move — and the Mets Otani’s earn­ing would be lim­ited by the in­ter­na­tional player sign­ing pool.

That means teams would be lim­ited to of­fer­ing him a sign­ing bonus that is capped by their re­main­ing in­ter­na­tional sign­ing pool money. That is a re­stric­tion for in­ter­na­tional play­ers un­der the age of 25. That means right now, Otani’s sign­ing bonus would be maxed out at around $3.5 mil­lion.

The team would then sign Otani to a mi­nor league con­tract. That would limit his hit to the pay­roll — at least ini­tially.

With the Mets look­ing to keep their pay­roll un­der the $154.4 mil­lion that they had on Open­ing Day Last year, mak­ing a play for Otani a very price­ef­fec­tive way to make a big splash this win­ter

And the Mets def­i­nitely need that af­ter a lack­lus­ter 2017 sea­son and to try and kick­off a new era in Flush­ing un­der first-year man­ager Mickey Call­away.

And the Mets could be very at­trac­tive to Otani, who has made it clear that he would like to con­tinue play­ing on both sides of the ball like he does in Ja­pan.

Not only does New York of­fer per­haps the big­gest op­por­tu­nity to mar­ket him­self and earn en­dorse­ment money to make up for that short­fall in con­tract and salary, but it would be a com­fort­able sit­u­a­tion for him on the field.

With the Mets be­ing a pitch­ing-cen­tric team with a lot of start­ing pitch­ing right now, they could limit his starts to ev­ery sixth day, more like the sched­ule he would be used to com­ing from Ja­panese baseball.

In the Na­tional League, Otani would lim­ited bud­get this win­ter — takes them out of the mar­ket for the likes of Mike Mous­takas, the top free agent third base­man on the mar­ket.

The Mets will go into 2018 planning to have Cabr­era as their Open­ing Day third base­man, some­thing that Cabr­era, who de­manded a trade in June when asked to move out of the short­stop spot, is ready to do, his rep­re­sen­ta­tive, Scott Pu­cino, re­it­er­ated.

“Based on what we saw at the end of the year, Cabr­era played pretty well there and be able to con­tinue be­ing a force at the plate and on the mound.

He has also se­lected CAA, the peo­ple that han­dle Ja­cob deGrom, Noah Syn­der­gaard and Yoe­nis Ce­s­pedes, as his rep­re­sen­ta­tives, mean­ing they have a fa­mil­iar­ity with what the Mets can of­fer.

Otani is an im­pact player on both sides of the ball.

Since 2013, in 82 starts (and three re­lief ap­pear­ances) Otani has a 2.52 ERA in 543 in­nings with the Nip­pon-Ham Fighters. Over that span, he has al­lowed just 24 home runs. He has av­er­aged 10.3 strike­outs per nine in­nings and just 3.3 walks per nine.

And he’s not just a good hit­ting pitcher. Otani has a ca­reer .286 bat­ting av­er­age with a .358 on-base per­cent­age and .500 slug­ging per­cent­age.

And he’d be com­ing from a place all-too fa­mil­iar to most Mets play­ers in 2017. Otani missed the World Baseball Clas­sic in 2017 be­cause of an an­kle in­jury. He then had a thigh in­jury that had him out for a few months. now that he’s go­ing to have a full spring train­ing, I think he could def­i­nitely play there,” said Ricco, who spoke to the me­dia as Alder­son met with the com­pe­ti­tion com­mit­tee.

“But he does have ver­sa­til­ity. The rea­son we haven’t seen Sandy com­mit is be­cause there are a lot of op­tions on the ta­ble. If we fill third base in a dif­fer­ent way, we could just move As­drubal to sec­ond base. That’s prob­a­bly why Sandy’s not say­ing he’s the third base­man. “

The Mets, how­ever, are “lean­ing” to­wards bring­ing in a sec­ond base­man to help add to a lineup with­out Wright.

With op­tions like Wilmer Flores, Gavin Cec­chini and T.J. Rivera in­ter­nally, the Mets have dis­cussed bring­ing back Jose Reyes or Neil Walker.

In a very ca­sual talk with the Mar­lins this week, the Mets tried to gauge if there would be a pos­si­ble fit for a deal. The Mar­lins have made it known that sec­ond base­man Dee Gor­don is avail­able, but the Mets came away with the im­pres­sion that was not a move they could put to­gether a pack­age for at the mo­ment. The Mar­lins are first fo­cused on try­ing to deal slug­ger Gian­carlo Stan­ton, a Mets source said, and won’t be fo­cused on mov­ing Gor­don or other pieces for a while.

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