John Farrell, who is the manager of the postseason all-star team's tour of Japan, spoke highly of a player on the opposing team. 20 year old pitcher Shohei Otani is the one player that Farrell singled out, saying he was "looking forward" to seeing him pitch, saying he has a "tremendous arm, very good stuff."
Otani stands at 6'4" and weighs only 190 pounds. However, he can throw a baseball as hard as the best of them, hitting 99 mph on the gun. He has said that he would pursue a career in Major League Baseball; however, we do not know when that time will come. When it does, could the Red Sox be serious contenders for the hard throwing righty?
The Sox have not been players in the bidding war for Japanese stars since missing on Daisuke Matsuzaka to the tune of $103 million. Matsuzaka was 26 when he debuted with Boston. However, if Farrell can talk the front office into spending money when the time comes, that could change.
Assuming Otani comes over sooner rather than later, he will be much younger than Matsuzaka in his rookie year, and will demand much more money. Yu Darvish cost the Texas Rangers $111 million, including over $57 million as a posting fee. The Yankees spent $155 million on 25 year old Masahiro Tanaka. He was the first big signing since the capped posting fee system. Darvish has proven to be well worth the money and despite being hurt for much of his rookie season, Tanaka looked very good early in the season. With the recent success of Japanese pitchers, Otani could set a new contract record.
Otani was 11-4 with and ERA of 2.61 last season, but was not strictly a pitcher. He played some outfield, and did it well, hitting .274 with ten home runs in 93 games. When he comes to the major leagues, he will be a pitcher, but could be attractive to National League teams with his experience with the bat.
Farrell also said that he has "come to know the (Japanese) culture through players on our roster." He continued to say, "the more we have Japanese players come to the States, we learn more and more about (their culture) with each and every exposure we have to the players that come to us," possibly hinting at the fact that they would be more prepared to work with a star player from a different culture this time around.
Even though the Matsuzaka signing was a disaster, the recent success of Japanese pitchers has swayed most fans to be in favor of engaging in a bidding war, despite that player having no Major League experience. After their second last place finish in three years, the Sox seem willing to open their wallet, something that will probably still be true when Otani is ready to come to America.
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