Kim Klement/USA Today Sports

Signs point to Red Sox being in mix for Shohei Otani

Rob Bradford
November 13, 2017 - 2:44 pm

ORLANDO -- One of the most fascinating names at the GM meetings belongs to a player few roaming the hallways at the Waldorf Astoria has seen play -- Shohei Otani.

And, when the true negotiations for the Japanese star really get going, it sure looks like the Red Sox will be in the middle of the action.

According to multiple sources at the GM meetings (which run through Wednesday), the Red Sox appear to be primed to be among the teams submitting the $20 million posting fee when clearance is given to start that process. It still might be an uphill climb for the Sox, who have extensively scouted the 23-year-old. Boston can only offer a $462,000 signing bonus to Otani, whose richest offers can come from the Rangers ($3,335,000), the Yankees ($3.25 million) and Twins ($3,245,000).

Under the current rules, Otani can only receive whatever the teams are able to pay out of what is left from their allotted international free agent pools, along with the major league minimum. His Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, would be awarded the $20 million from the team the player ultimately signs with.

If the two-way star waited until he was 25-years-old, he could potentially be hauling in a contract worth $200 million. But Otani has made it clear his priorities are with becoming a big leaguer in the United States.

So, where would Otani fit in when it comes to the Red Sox? It's potentially an interesting idea.

Otani hasn't demanded that he pitch and hit for whatever team signs him, only going on record as to explain he's open to listening to various scenarios. From the Red Sox point of view, the lefty slugger could very well serve as a designated hitter and starting pitcher, not having to expose him to outfield. He has been viewed as perhaps the best hitter and pitcher (possessing an 100 mph fastball) in Nippon Professional Baseball, which has a level of play described by most as somewhere between the majors and Triple-A.

"Well, Babe Ruth did it, right? So, he was pretty good. I would say that it’s possible," said Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski when asked about his thoughts regarding a player pitching and hitting in the American League. "I’ve been involved with guys like that at the minor league level, and there’s a couple of guys now like McKay with Tampa that was drafted last year. I originally – many, many years ago – I had Bobby Thigpen, who was a reliever at that time and also played some. Now, most players aren’t that talented to continue to do it, but if you had somebody that was talented enough, why not? Like, I said, the Babe did it."

Red Sox scout Shun Kakazu has been monitoring Otani for some time, while current Red Sox assistant general manager Eddie Romero actually met with the righty pitcher/lefty hitter when he was an 18-year-old high schooler.

Otani is represented by CAA.

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