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Shohei Otani decides to remain in Japan

Dec 9, 2012, 9:03 AM EDT

otani getty Getty Images

Japanese right-hander Shohei Otani announced back in October that he was planning to break tradition and jump from his high school (Hanamaki East) right to the professional ranks in the United States, skipping a career in Nippon Professional Baseball altogether. But it’s not going to happen.

According to Japanese reporter Yasuko Yanagita, Otani has decided to remain in his native country for the foreseeable future. He was selected in the first round of the NPB Draft less than two months ago by the Nippon-Ham Fighters and accepted an offer Sunday to suit up for them in 2013.

Otani drew serious interest over the last few months from big spenders like the Dodgers, Rangers and Red Sox, but the pressure to take the more customary route for a Japanese pitcher apparently weighed on him.

Otani, 18, is a 6-foot-4 starting pitching prospect. His fastball has already been clocked in the triple digits.

  1. thebadguyswon - Dec 9, 2012 at 9:22 AM


    • seeinred87 - Dec 9, 2012 at 9:42 AM

      Call him that after you dig into the batter’s box against him.

      • thebadguyswon - Dec 9, 2012 at 9:59 AM

        He’d strike me out, so what?

    • ramrene - Dec 9, 2012 at 10:38 AM

      He’d hit you

      • thebadguyswon - Dec 9, 2012 at 10:42 AM

        I don’t know Japanese. He wouldn’t know what I said.

      • raysfan1 - Dec 9, 2012 at 11:01 AM

        You don’t speak Japanese, and thus the kid doesn’t speak English? Complete logic failure.

  2. sportsnut101 - Dec 9, 2012 at 10:55 AM

    he got scared of backlash in japan

    man up kid if u say u gonna do it then do it

    • thebadguyswon - Dec 9, 2012 at 11:06 AM


  3. Al - Dec 9, 2012 at 11:13 AM

    I don’t know how the NPB minor league system works, but I have to imagine that whatever awaits him there is more attractive than a likely 3-4 year slog through the MLB minors.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Dec 9, 2012 at 11:53 AM

      The money is far less than what the Dodgers could have offered, and by signing with the NPB he can’t leave for the US for 10 years.

      • Al - Dec 9, 2012 at 12:14 PM

        Right, I’m sure he left plenty of money on the table. I was more responding to comments criticizing him for not taking the “challenge” of U.S. baseball. The league size and level of competition in Japan would seem to offer a much simpler path to stardom (or even just the big league roster). Surely the situation would be much different for a high-priced Japanese player than for a Dominican, but we’ve all seen Sugar, right? The culture shock of the low minors would have to be tough for anyone. He could still come to the MLB in less than 10 years via the posting system, right?

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Dec 9, 2012 at 12:19 PM

        Yes he could still come over in 10 years, and he’d definitely have to spend some time in the minors; however, why is everyone assuming he wanted to stay in Japan as the sole reason for returning? Didn’t the Dodgers just low ball the other FA they were awarded? Couldn’t they have done the same with Otani?

      • cosanostra71 - Dec 9, 2012 at 2:03 PM

        You have to stay for 10 years? I thought Darvish came after only about 6-7 years though?

      • bluestar4ever - Dec 9, 2012 at 2:37 PM

        10 years? Have you not heard of the posting process or something? Yu Darvish is 26 years old. He came over last year. By your logic he would have to have started in NPB when he was 15

      • raysfan1 - Dec 9, 2012 at 3:05 PM

        The 10 years is referring to NPB international free agency rules, ie when he can come to the US without going through the posting process.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Dec 9, 2012 at 7:00 PM

        The 10 years is referring to NPB international free agency rules, ie when he can come to the US without going through the posting process.

        Thank you, I knew I had 10 years for some reason in my head, couldn’t remember if it was via FA or posting.

      • jwbiii - Dec 10, 2012 at 10:49 AM

        In Otani’s case it’s probably nine years until he hits free agency. The NPB draft is a little odd in that a player can specify that he will only sign with a particular team. Then the player has a ten year wait. If he does specify a team, he hits free agency after nine years. At the time of the draft, Otani said that he was going to play in MLB, so it’s unlikely that he had committed to the Fighters. It’s kind of moot, because I’m sure he’ll be posted at some point.

        The Fighters’ manager said that Otani would have a chance to make the team out of spring training and skip the Japanese minor leagues altogether.

  4. jayquintana - Dec 9, 2012 at 2:09 PM

    How do we know this wasn’t a negotiating ploy on his part? I’m sure he got a bigger contract than he would have without the “going to the US” bargaining chip.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Dec 9, 2012 at 7:02 PM

      Quoting myself from an earlier post:

      Except Japan’s restrictions on contracts are even worse than the new MLB CBA re: IFA spending. Here’s a comment by Jack Gallagher who’s the Executive Sports Editor of The Japan Times:

      One problem going forward for NPB teams is that they are limited to offering a ¥100 million ($1.2 million) signing bonus and ¥50 million ($600,000) in incentives, along with a first-year salary of ¥15 million ($180,000) to domestic prospects. U.S. teams are free to exceed those figures.

      Great article, should read all of it:

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