Alex Rodriguez connected for his 584th career home run during the bottom of the fourth inning on Saturday afternoon against the Rangers, passing Mark McGwire for sole possession of eighth place on the all-time home run list.
Rodriguez, who turns 35 in July, was homerless in his first 41 at-bats to begin the year, his longest such home run drought to start a season since needing 48 bats to hit his first major league home run as a 19-year-old in 1995.
Should Rodriguez avoid the disabled list, it’s not unreasonable to expect he will surpass Frank Robinson (7th place — 586 home runs) and Sammy Sosa (6th place — 609 home runs) this season, leaving him just outside the top-five all-time.
Speaking of history, Jim Thome launched his 566th career home run in a 6-5 win over the Royals on Saturday afternoon. He is currently 12th on the all-time home run list, breathing down the neck of Rafael Palmeiro (11th place — 569 home runs) and fellow Twinkie Harmon Killebrew (10th place — 573 home runs).
Yankees’ special advisor and former outfielder Hideki Matsui expects to help the club “convince or recruit” Japanese two-way star Shohei Otani, according to a report from MLB.com’s Deesha Thosar. The Yankees are currently viewed as the favorites to sign Otani, though there still figures to be plenty of competition for his services when he finally becomes eligible to enter Major League Baseball.
Matsui also told Thosar that while he hasn’t seen a player find success as a hybrid pitcher/slugger in the majors, he’s taken notice of Otani’s success in both areas. “He’s done well in Japan, so as a baseball fan I’m looking forward to how he’s going to do here in the Majors and in the U.S.,” Matsui said, later adding, “If [pitching and hitting is] something he wants to do, and the team wants it, then why not?”
Neither the Yankees nor any other suitor should be too concerned with Otani’s ability to translate his .332 batting average and 3.20 ERA to MLB — at least, not just yet. There are still a few roadblocks in his path to the major leagues, most notably the lack of approval from the Players Association. Per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, the union doesn’t want to sign off on an agreement that would give the Nippon Ham Fighters a $20 million posting fee in exchange for Otani’s services. According to the posting system rules, Otani himself would be eligible to receive no more than a $4 million signing bonus.
The good news in all of this? The union agreed to reach a final decision by Monday, November 21, so there’s still a chance Major League Baseball will see the talented two-way player bring his unique skillset to the field in 2018.