If you needed a reason to tune into this year’s Home Run Derby at Target Field, this is it: Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton has agreed to participate, reports MLB.com’s Caitlin Swieca. MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro has also tweeted the news.
Stanton is the current National League leader in home runs and RBI with 21 and 59, respectively. The 24-year-old is now in his fifth major league season, but has never participated in the Home Run Derby before. Injuries have played a role, as Stanton underwent surgery on his right knee just before the All-Star break in 2012, and suffered a strained right hamstring in the first half last season.
Jose Bautista and Troy Tulowitzki are the captains of the American League and National League Home Run Derby squads, respectively. The Derby will feature new rules. Each of ten sluggers will get seven outs per round. The player from each league with the most home runs will get a bye to the third round, while the next two players from each league will battle it out in the second round with the winner advancing to the third round.
You can watch the Home Derby on Monday, July 14 at 8 PM ET on ESPN. Athletics outfielder Yoenis Cespedes won last year’s event.
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.