The Shohei Otani sweepstakes are in full swing as Major League Baseball’s winter meetings inch closer and closer. The 23-year-old Japanese superstar could very well make his way over to the United States for the 2018 season and it looks like the New York Yankees are slated to be the team that signs him.
Per Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, many of those pursuing teams view the Yankees as “supreme favorites” to land Otani. Though the Texas Rangers could offer him the largest signing bonus under MLB’s Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) at $3.5 million.
The Yankees aren’t far behind at $3.25 million and the appeal to play in New York compared to Arlington is obvious.
What makes Otani such a can’t-miss prospect is his two-way capabilities.
In 65 games last season, Otani batted .332 with eight home runs and 31 RBI. But he also is an effective pitcher, going 3-2 with a 3.20 ERA. It was a bit of a down season on the hill compared to a 2016 campaign that saw him go 10-4 with a 1.86 ERA.
That dual-threat promise has some tabbing him as the Japanese Babe Ruth, which would make it even more fitting if he landed in New York.
The Yankees are in need of a regular designated hitter as evident last season when Matt Holliday, Chase Headley and Jacoby Ellsbury saw considerable at-bats in that spot.
On top of that, Otani could also be considered for a spot in the Yankees rotation, which will be looking to round out a unit that will be headlined by Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka and Sonny Gray.