Shohei Ohtani, P/OF
Age on Opening Day: 23
Info: Ohtani is the premier free agent on the market this winter now that Major League Baseball came to an agreement with the Japanese league Ohtani was playing in up through this season.
Ohtani is likely going to be an innovator in the game, taking the discussion we were having in the game last June during the amateur draft about players possibly “going both ways” by hitting and pitching to a whole other level. When that discussion was centered around an elite high school player in both facets or even an elite college player in both areas, that’s one thing. Ohtani has been doing it as a professional in Japan for a half-decade.
He’s also been doing it at a masterful level. As a hitter, Ohtani has 1,170 plate appearances to his credit in Japan, hitting .286/.358/.500 with 48 home runs. His powerful approach has continued to improve, and over the last two seasons, Ohtani has tallied 613 plate appearances with a .326/.411/.570 line, 30 home runs, and 7 stolen bases. The one concern some have raised about Ohtani at the plate is that he does strike out at a high rate, with a 26.2% strikeout rate over the last two seasons.
On the mound, however, his dominance is truly unquestioned. Ohtani has set an NPL record with his fastball reaching the equivalent of 101 miles per hour. An injury this season limited Ohtani to just 5 games on the mound, but in his previous three seasons (when he was 19, 20, and 21), Ohtani threw 456 innings, with a 2.25 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 8.2% walk rate, and 30.5% strikeout rate.
The Twins could uniquely position themselves in negotiating with Ohtani by allowing him to DH a few days per week along with pitching, which would give them a leg up on competition, at least possibly.
However, with so many teams vying for his services, the Twins may consider other possibilities…