Three teams have most money for prized Japanese star Otani

The Associated Press

NEW YORK — Texas, the New York Yankees and Minnesota can pay the most to a young international amateur free agent as highly touted pitcher-outfielder Shohei Otani prepares to enter the market, and Major League Baseball and its Japanese counterpart have agreed to the outlines of a deal to keep the old posting system for this offseason.

The Rangers can agree to a maximum $3,535,000 signing bonus from their pool that covers July 2 through next June 15, according to figures compiled by Major League Baseball and obtained by The Associated Press. New York can pay $3.25 million and the Twins $3,245,000.

Just three other teams can give him a seven-figure signing bonus: Pittsburgh ($2,266,750), Miami ($1.74 million) and Seattle ($1,570,500).

Twelve teams are capped at $300,000 as penalties for exceeding their signing bonus pool under baseball’s previous collective bargaining agreement, which did not have a cap: Atlanta, the Chicago Cubs and White Sox, Cincinnati, Houston, Kansas City, the Los Angeles Dodgers, Oakland, St. Louis, San Diego, San Francisco and Washington.

Other clubs have even less available: Detroit ($159,500), the Los Angeles Angels ($150,000), the New York Mets ($105,000), Toronto ($50,000), and Cleveland and Colorado ($10,000 apiece).

Under baseball’s new collective bargaining agreement, the 23-year-old Otani can only agree to a minor league contract that is subject to signing bonus pools. If added to a big league roster, he would have a salary for about the minimum $545,000 next season and not be eligible for salary arbitration until 2020 at the earliest.

If he waits until he is 25 to enter MLB, there would be no restrictions and he likely would get a deal for more than $100 million. MLB has warned of severe penalties if a team attempts to sign Otani to a secret long-term contract, then announce it in future years.

Otani is the reigning Pacific League MVP and is 3-2 with a 3.20 ERA this year for the Nippon Ham Fighters, limited because of thigh and ankle injuries. He is batting .332 in 65 games with 16 doubles, eight homers and 31 RBIs.

He has a 42-15 record with a 2.52 ERA and 624 strikeouts in 543 innings over five seasons, and a .286 batting average with 48 homers and 166 RBIs.

Elsewhere:

n Houston second baseman Jose Altuve was voted outstanding player for the second straight season on Tuesday in Players Choice Awards balloting by the Major League Baseball Players Association.

Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo was selected Marvin Miller Man of the Year, given to the player who most inspires other players through on-field performances and contributions to his community. Rizzo was treated for limited state classical Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2008 and in 2012 founded the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation, which funds pediatric cancer research and supports the families of children with cancer.

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