The following article comes as a guest post from Brian Chinni of stiflesports.com. Mr. Chinni will be an occasional guest contributor to our blog. You can also find this article on his site. Please check out stiflesports.com for more in-depth sports news, insight, and high quality reporting.
As soon as George Springer caught the final out of Game 7 of the American League Championship Series, it marked the start of what will be the most critical offseason the New York Yankees have had in a decade. In the next couple of months Senior VP and General Manager, Brian Cashman, will have to build on an incredible 2017 campaign that saw the "rebuilding" Yankees go all the way to the ALCS with an extremely young, but talented group.
However, the biggest move he will have to make will not involve choosing a manager, nor will it involve re-signing ace pitcher Masahiro Tanaka. Nope, it will be signing maybe the most gifted baseball player in the entire world, Shohei Otani. Otani, a twenty-three year old standing at 6'4'', is both a pitcher and hitter for the Nippon Ham Fighter of the NPB (Nippon Professional Baseball) in Japan. And when I say both, I mean both.
At the plate, Otani has accumulated 30 home runs, 98 RBI's, and a .300+ batting average to boot in his last 169 games (Baseball-Reference.com).
On the mound he might have been even better. In 2016, at age 21, Otani posted a 10-4 record with a 1.86 ERA and an incredible 11.2 K/9. However, even more so than his stats. What excites me about Otani is his stuff. Otani has a fastball that sits in the upper-90's and has even touched as high as 102 mph. In addition, Otani showcases other plus offerings including a devastating slider, sharp curveball, and even a forkball.
In his last start, he threw a fastball at 99.42 mph, on his 101st pitch. That is Verlander-esque stamina on full display from the righty. Otani is the most talented pitcher I have ever seen come out of Japan.
He is someone that automatically slots right into the top of any rotation and can dominate simply with his arsenal of pitches. He offers at least four plus pitches, each with its own devastating movement.
And arguably the most impressive feature about Otani is the way he repeats his mechanics and release point with every pitch he has. In addition, he is someone who is the ultimate competitor and loves the big stage. Enter, the New York Yankees.
The Yankees are entering this off season with no designated hitter, an open rotation spot, a need to get under the luxury tax, and a need to just simply get better. Shohei Otani checks all the boxes. Since he is under the age of 25, the current CBA (collective bargaining agreement) will limit the amount of money Otani will make here in the states. This means that other than his signing bonus (of up to $10 million), he will be on a rookie salary. This is essentially purchasing a Ferrari for $10. Any team that lands Otani will be getting a front line starting pitcher, at 23 years old, for absolutely nothing. With the Brian Cashman and the Yankees wanting to cut payroll and stay under the luxury tax threshold in order to spend big in next years loaded free agent class, Otani is just what they need.
Meanwhile for Otani, since he is unable to maximize his salary, the next best way for him maximize his earnings would be in endorsements, and what better way to do that than in New York City?
The early word is that an AL team could have an advantage due to his desire to hit, and according to John Harper of the Daily News, "there have been reports that Otani wants to play for the Yankees."
If the Yankees wish to enter into another golden age, they need dominance. They need someone who they can march out on the mound every fifth day and just simply be better. Even more so than a new manager, or even a new coaching staff, the Yankees need Shohei Otani.