MLB rules prohibit the Yankees from blowing away the competition when it comes to paying Shohei Otani.
But they’ll still have advantage over 28 other teams when it comes to how much they can offer the 23-year-old, two-way star from Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball League, assuming he’s eligible to come to the majors in 2018.
The Bombers can offer Otani a $3.25 million signing bonus, according to a report from the Associated Press. Only the Rangers, at $3.535 million, can offer more. The Twins are next, at $3.245 million.
Other big market clubs can offer the following: Red Sox ($462,000), Cubs ($300,000), Dodgers ($300,000).
It must be noted, however, that Otani isn’t coming over strictly for the money. If that were the case, he’d wait until he turns 25, when there is no limit on how much teams can offer.
That’s how Masahiro Tanaka got a seven-year, $155 million deal from the Yankees in 2014.
“I expect that we will reach some sort of agreement with NPB,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said at Joe Torre’s Safe At Home gala event Wednesday night. “What Mr. Ohtani decides to do, you’re going to have to talk to him about that.”
Otani makes a lot of sense for the Bombers, who want to get under the $197 million luxury-tax threshold for 2018, because he’s young, cost-effective and has significant potential.
The Yankees could potentially sell him on a dual role in which he starts on the mound and then DHs a bit, with other position players like Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez getting some occasional DH days as well.
Having Tanaka on the roster is an asset based on how he went through what Otani will be going through in terms of acclimating himself into a new environment.
The Bombers are also set up for a potentially big future given their young core, strong farm system and significant payroll flexibility in 2019, when the likes of Bryce Harper, Manny Machado and Clayton Kershaw (if he opts out) can be free agents.
Otani selected agent Nez Balelo of CAA Sports to represent him, a source confirmed, a step in the right direction toward him joining an MLB club next season.
While the posting agreement between MLB and NPB has expired, the sides agreed several weeks ago to the outlines of a deal that would for this offseason continue the rules of the previous agreement, a person familiar with that negotiation told the AP. The rules call for the Japanese club to set a maximum $20 million posting fee, and any MLB club willing to bid that amount would be able to negotiate with Otani for 30 days.
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