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.