Perhaps not a fit, but Phillies should look hard at Otani

Shohei Otani could receive a look from the Philadelphia Phillies
Shohei Otani is the most intriguing baseball prospect in the world and it appears he will be coming to the United States this winter, according to several reports from Japan.

Otani is a two-way superstar, pitching to a 1.86 ERA over 20 starts last season with the Nippon-Ham Fighters while also excelling at the plate with 22 homers to go along with a .322 average.

He's just 23 and is already referred to as the Babe Ruth of Japanese baseball. In 52 games this season he's hitting .346 with an OPS of .990. On the mound his fastball sits comfortably in the mid-90s, occasionally reaching 98-mph. His strikeouts per nine innings last year was a ridiculous 11.2.

The Phillies have the ammunition to make a serious play to land Otani this winter if interested and it's hard to see why they wouldn't at least throw their name into the ring.

Because Otani is considered an international amateur as he's under the age of 25 he's limited to signing a minor league deal with a bonus no greater than $10 million. For the rights to even negotiate with him the Phillies - and any other club for that matter - will have to pay a posting fee that could reach $20 million.

The Phillies spent a sizeable chunk of their international pool money on Latin players this summer, so the club has less than $1 million available to offer Otani as a signing bonus. However, it's possible the Phillies secure the rights to negotiate through the bid process and sell him on the potential of playing in Philadelphia with a young team on the rise.

In five seasons Otani has a 40-15 record with a 2.57 ERA and 605 strikeouts in 528 innings, and a .286 batting average with 47 homers and 163 RBIs.

Perhaps he's not a fit given the financial complexities but given his meteoric rise, it's hard to see the Phillies slamming the door without taking a serious look.
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Follow Patrick on Twitter: @PGordonPBR

BY PATRICK GORDON
Managing Editor
pgordon@philadelphiabaseballreview.com

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