Report: Brian Cashman visits Japan to scout NPB's two-way superstar Shohei Otani
The Yankees, among other big-payroll clubs, have been linked to Otani for months, and a slew of transactions adding to the team's international bonus pool money could indicate a potential splash for the 'Japanese Babe Ruth,' as Randy Miller of NJ.com pointed out in early August.
Due to changes in the latest round of collective-bargaining agreement tweaks, posting rules for international players have changed, putting Otani's MLB future in question as he faces a huge financial decision to make: stay in Japan and boost his earning power, or come to America to compete with the world's best baseball players. Yahoo's Jeff Passan described Otani's quandary in great detail here.
Otani plays for the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, former club of current Texas Rangers ace Yu Darvish. Otani's legend began to grow following reports of his 102-mph fastball and roof-busting home run power, leading to those early comparisons to The Babe.
Otani bats left-handed, pitches right-handed, and is off to a great start at the plate this season for the Ham Fighters. He's batting .345 with five home runs and 21 RBI over 44 games, and last year went 10-4 with a 1.86 ERA and 174 strikeouts over 140 innings. The young man can do it all.
The Dodgers, Red Sox, and Rangers are the three teams most commonly linked to Otani now, but there's no telling when or where Otani will eventually land because the decision is in his hands. Otani said earlier this year that the Ham Fighters "will respect my wishes whenever I decide I want to go," but until his intentions become clear, he'll remain one of the most sought after international players on the planet.