Milwaukee first basemen have hit .188 with four homers and a .521 OPS this season, which is what happens when you primarily use light-hitting middle infielders like Alex Gonzalez and Yuniesky Betancourt there, but help is on the way.
Adam McCalvy of MLB.com reports that Corey Hart, who’s been sidelined all season following January knee surgery, has started traveling with the team in preparation for a minor-league rehab assignment in the not-too-distant future.
Hart is eligible to return from the 60-day disabled list tomorrow, which obviously isn’t happening, but the impending free agent told McCalvy that he’s “pretty close” and mostly just “waiting for the running stuff to get better.” Of course, “the running stuff” is sort of important even if Hart has been fine taking batting practice and fielding grounders.
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.