Shohei Otani is like Justin Verlander in his prime combined with Bryce Harper in a Justin Verlander costume. One of them starts. One of them plays the outfield. No one has figured it out, and it’s the greatest scam in professional sports. He is going to get $300 million, and you should want the Giants to be one of the teams giving it to him.
And, finally, we have someone suggesting that the Giants might be lurking. Jeff Passan took a long look on the mystery of Otani, and he wrote this:
One scout is convinced the Texas Rangers are the favorites for Otani. Another GM believes the same – though he heard Otani might prefer the Los Angeles Dodgers. And then there are the San Diego Padres, who have a partnership with Otani’s Japanese team and hired a former strength coach of his in a prominent role. Don’t forget the New York Yankees and Chicago Cubs and San Francisco Giants and Houston Astros and others lurking, waiting, wondering whether their recon might be the difference between landing Otani and losing him.
The Giants are lurking, waiting, and wondering. I’ll take it. In the middle of a miserable season, I’ll take it.
This is not the point of Passan’s column, though. It’s an aside in a much longer piece about if Otani will come over before the 2018 season. Not only would he have to give up hundreds of millions of dollars to do so, but because he’s under 25, he’s subject to the new rules of the CBA, which caps the maximum amount that young international prospects can earn. While there was some speculation that the rules would change to exclude NPB players, that was shot down.
Which means Otani might have to settle for a low, low initial salary. If he wants to come to the Giants before 2018, he’ll have to sign for $300,000 because the team is still in the penalty box for signing Lucius Fox, which isn’t looking like the best deal right now. The only good news is that the Dodgers are also in that penalty box.
No one has any inkling about what Otani really wants. There was a suggestion in Passan’s piece that Otani would want an area with a sizable Japanese presence on the West Coast, and that would certainly include San Francisco. On the other hand, he’ll almost certainly favor a team that will let him DH on his days off, which would seem to rule the Giants out.
The A’s, then. I’m starting that rumor.
It would make sense, though, for the Giants to be interested, especially if he’s willing to give up $200 million or more to expedite his arrival to Major League Baseball. It would make sense for the Sonoma Stompers to be interested, really. But even if Otani waits, the Giants’ core won’t be locked up long past 2020, which means there wouldn’t be a huge overlap between the end of the expensive contracts for Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford, Brandon Belt, Jeff Samardzija, et al, and the meat of a possible Otani deal.
And a high-profile, international superstar would be a great way to kick off a new era. It would be what they tried to do with Barry Zito replacing Barry Bonds, except not as awful in idea or execution.
Mostly, though, I will be here for you whenever the word “Giants” appears within two paragraphs of the name “Otani.” He is going to define an offseason, and I very much want the Giants to be kicking tires, at the very least. They’re lurking, waiting, and wondering as of now.
I’m okay with that.