Minnesota Twins Rumors: Could the Minnesota Twins be the destination for Shohei Otani?
The Minnesota Twins would be able to offer Shohei Otani more than all but two teams in MLB. Could they be the Japanese superstar’s ultimate destination?
As the Minnesota Twins have entered the offseason, there have been plenty of rumors about the Twins spending heavily this offseason from places like MLB Trade Rumors. One particular free agent that could really be of interest is Japanese superstar Shohei Otani.
Who is he?
Otani is referred to as “Japan’s Babe Ruth” because of his elite abilities at both the plate and on the mound. The last two seasons, over 613 plate appearances in Japan, Otani hit .326/.411/.570 with 89 runs scored, 34 doubles, 2 triples, 30 home runs, 98 RBI, 7 stolen bases, and 78/161 BB/K.
However, where most teams see Otani being most prized is on the mound, primarily due to his incredible fastball, along with an impressive array of secondary pitches, including a split-finger, curve, and slider. Otani currently holds the Japanese professional record for velocity on a pitch at roughly 101 miles per hour.
Over his career in Japan, Otani has posted a 42-15 record across 85 games pitched, 82 of them starts. He’s thrown 543 innings with a 2.52 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, and a 200/624 BB/K ratio during his time in Japan.
Why the Twins?
Otani is 23 years old, meaning he’s subject to the international signing pool restrictions. While the same rules apply to being able to negotiate with Otani (a $20M maximum bid to negotiate, which most likely many teams will offer), but then the teams will be restricted to negotiating with the money remaining in their international signing pool.
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Each team has an allotted amount of money in their pool due to their market size, and to begin the international signing process this summer in July, the Twins had $5.25M to begin signing players, and in spite of signing multiple top prospects in the initial July rush (shortstop Jelfry Marte and outfielder Carlos Aguiar the two biggest expenditures), the Twins still have $3.245M left to negotiate with Otani.
While that does not sound like a lot of money, it places them third behind the Rangers ($3.535M) and Yankees ($3.25M). Due to their previous record with Japanese players, many believe the Rangers and the Yankees to have a leg up on anyone else, but the 4th highest amount is the Pirates at $2.2M, giving the Twins’ amount a huge advantage and leg up in negotiations.
One thing that could be part of the Twins big spending this offseason is exactly why the Twins should not be eliminated from possibility. While it seems the team is less than enthused by Jake Arrieta (for good reason), they have shown interest in Yu Darvish, and Otani is known to idolize Darvish and would put extra weight in a team with Darvish on their payroll. If the Twins were to sign Darvish (and they have the finances and desire to do such), they could have a huge leg up on Otani!
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Otani may be a long-shot, but with the amount of money the Twins have available, they should not be automatically discounted as a possible destination, and the presence of Otani and Darvish both would be a huge impact on the 2018 Twins!