Since 1998, ESPN The Magazine has named someone their “NEXT” athlete. It’s the person who, according to ESPN, “is a future leader or trailblazer in their sport.” They just named Buster Posey their NEXT athlete for 2011. Buster Olney has a nice writeup of Posey here.
I think Posey has as bright a future in baseball as anyone. But for his sake, I hope that ESPN has changed its criteria for choosing its Nexteroo. The last two baseball players chosen: Joba Chamberlain and Kaz Matsui.
Yeah, well, the title isn’t the NEXT good athlete. Just NEXT.
Last Thursday, we learned that the MLBPA was challenging the Nippon Professional Baseball posting system, delaying Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani’s move to Major League Baseball. The latest collective bargaining agreement removed a lot of the incentive for players to come to the U.S. by capping pay. Ohtani, for example, can only receive a signing bonus between $300,000 and $3.53 million while his team — the Nippon Ham Fighters — would receive $20 million for posting him.
Jon Morosi reports that the deadline for this issue to be resolved is 8 PM ET on Monday evening. He notes that key NPB officials have worked through the night in Japan to try to reach a resolution. It is possible that even if no agreement is reached, the deadline could be pushed further back.
Ohtani, 23, has become a heralded hitter and pitcher in Japan. At the plate over his five-year career, he has compiled a .286/.358/.500 triple-slash line with 48 home runs and 166 RBI in 1,170 plate appearances. On the mound, he has a 2.52 ERA with a 624/200 K/BB ratio across 543 innings.