AFPNEW YORK (AFP-Jiji) — Shohei Otani may be the “Babe Ruth of Japan,” but he won’t be playing for the Babe’s New York Yankees, general manager Brian Cashman said Sunday.
Cashman told reporters that Otani, the coveted Japanese star primed to make a move to the major leagues, had ruled out the Yankees and appears to prefer the idea of West Coast teams and smaller markets.
“[The Yankees] have been informed today that we have been eliminated from the Otani sweepstakes, so we are out,” Cashman told reporters after rappelling down the 22-story Landmark Square Building in Stamford, Conn. “I got a call [Sunday], this afternoon, the first round was presentations. And I don’t know who’s invited to Round Two, but we’re not.”
According to the Boston Globe, the Boston Red Sox were also informed they were eliminated from the bidding. Other media reports indicated that the Toronto Blue Jays, Pittsburgh Pirates, Minnesota Twins, Milwaukee Brewers and New York Mets are out of the hunt.
Meanwhile, reports suggested that the Seattle Mariners and San Francisco Giants are among nine teams to be granted a meeting with Otani.
Otani, 23, is one of the hottest properties in baseball — a two-way threat with a fastball clocked at 160 kph and an explosive presence at the plate.
His move had been on hold as Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball worked out a new posting system by which Japanese clubs are compensated for players lured Stateside before they become free agents.
Although his 2017 season with the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters was hampered by an ankle injury, in 2016 he put up dazzling numbers, with a 10-4 record and a 1.86 ERA in 140 innings. At the plate he hit .322 and clubbed 22 home runs.
In 403 games over four seasons with the Pacific League club, he batted .286 with 48 homers, 166 RBIs and a .859 OPS. As a pitcher, he was 42-15 with a 2.52 ERA in 85 outings (82 starts).
On Friday, the Fighters established a posting price at $20 million — the maximum allowable figure. Any team willing to meet the posting price would get a chance to negotiate within a 21-day window through Dec. 22.Speech