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Shohei Otani won’t be coming to America after all

The Shohei Otani saga will come to an end (for at least the next few years, anyway), in the way we all imagined: with Otani staying in Japan. This morning, Otani announced that he'd be joining the Nippon Ham Fighters (who drafted Otani first overall in October's NPB amateur draft), putting an end to dreams of Otani dominating American lineups in the minor leagues before making his major league debut.

All in all, this is probably a good move for Otani. All scouting reports say that while Otani is extremely talented, he still has some kinks in his game to work out, mainly related to control. Because of his stature, there would likely be immense pressure for the signing team to spend a major league roster spot on Otani (much like the Red Sox did with Junichi Tazawa a few years ago), and he's not ready for the big stage. Also, with Otani announcing his desire to come to America so late in the international free agent signing period, there was much less of a chance that teams would be able to get involved in a bidding war for his services.

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One more thing to note: Otani stands to make a lot more money in four or five years when Nippon Ham posts him than he does right now. If Otani turns into Yu Darvish 2.0, he (along with Nippon Ham) could absolutely clean up when it comes to a contract and posting fees. The Fighters got $51.7 million as a posting fee from the Rangers for Darvish, and Darvish's contract with Texas was for six years and $56 million. Contrast that to Tazawa, who came over from the Japanese Industrial League to the Red Sox at age 22 after the 2008 season and got $3.3 million guaranteed. He's still under team control with the Red Sox until after the 2016 season, when Tazawa will be 30 and will likely have made a fraction of the money that Darvish (or Daisuke Matsuzaka, for that matter) has made over his initial contract coming out of Japan.

About Joe Lucia

Joe is the managing editor of The Outside Corner and a contributing author at Awful Announcing. He lives in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and is stuck somewhere between tolerating and hating Pittsburgh and Philadelphia sports.

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