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The new CBA will likely keep Shohei Otani away from Major League Baseball for years

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As the cheering in response to Major League Baseball and the MLBPA reaching a new Collective Bargaining Agreement subsides, some of the downsides to it are starting to reveal themselves. One of them: perhaps the most exciting international player in the world will be unlikely to make his way to the United States to play any time soon. That player is Shohei Otani, the Japanese pitcher/designated hitter who stars for plays for the Nippon Ham Fighters.

Otani is just 22-years old but he has already shown himself to be a singular talent. As a hitter, he put up a line of .322/.416/.588 with 22 homers in just 106 games in 2016. Thing is, he’s actually an even better pitcher. He throws a 100 m.p.h. fastball and went 10-4 with a 1.86 ERA and notched 174 strikeouts in 140 innings pitched as well.

He is projected to be a major, major star in Major League Baseball and it had been speculated that Otani would attempt to make the leap in the next year or two. Many speculated that his combination of youth, talent and flexibility could land him a $200 million deal and possibly much more.

But now there is no chance of that. Why? Because of the international talent spending restrictions put in place under the new CBA.

Under the old CBA, international players aged 23 or over were not subject to bonus pools and, even if they were, teams could exceed bonus pools and make the judgment as to whether the penalty for doing so would be worth it. For a talent like Otani, it’d definitely be worth it. Under the new CBA, however, there is a hard cap of $6 million per team per year and, what’s more, that cap applies to players until they are 25 years-old.

This means that Otani would be unable to sign a lucrative contract in the United States for three more years, which likely eliminates any incentive he may have had for wanting to come here before then.

Red Sox to extend protective netting at Fenway Park in 2018

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The Red Sox are the latest team to extend the protective netting at their ballpark this winter. According to a statement by club president Sam Kennedy, the exact dimensions of the netting have yet to be determined, but it will likely stretch “all the way to Field Box 79, down the left field line and then all the way down to almost Canvas Alley in the Field Box 9 area.”

Fenway Park received additional protective netting prior to the 2016 season, when the netting behind home plate was lengthened to the home and visitor dugouts. Per Kennedy’s statement, the current expansion should cover everything but the outfield corners, making it nearly impossible for a line drive foul to reach fans in the lower boxes.

After a toddler sustained serious injuries from a 105-MPH foul ball to the face at Yankee Stadium last September, over half of all MLB teams decided to take more extreme preventative measures in advance of the 2018 season. The Brewers, Cardinals, Braves, Astros, Royals, Pirates, Rangers, Padres, Nationals, Mariners, Phillies, Mets, Reds, Blue Jays, Giants, Yankees, Twins and Indians are among the organizations to address the issue over the last several years, while others have yet to take significant action.