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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.

Justin Turner is a postseason monster

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A not-insignificant amount of the Dodgers’ success in recent years has to do with the emergence of Justin Turner. In his first five seasons with the Orioles and Mets, he was a forgettable infielder who had versatility, but no power. The Mets non-tendered him after the 2013 season, a move they now really regret.

In four regular seasons since, as a Dodger, Turner has hit an aggregate .303/.378/.502. His 162-game averages over those four seasons: 23 home runs, 36 doubles, 83 RBI, 80 runs scored. And he’s also a pretty good third baseman, it turns out. The Dodgers have averaged 95 wins per season over the past four years.

Turner, 32, has gotten better and better with each passing year. This year, he drew more walks (59) than strikeouts (56), a club only five other players (min. 300 PA) belonged to, and he trailed only Joey Votto (1.61) in BB/K ratio (1.05). He zoomed past his previous career-high in OPS, finishing at .945. His .415 on-base percentage was fourth-best in baseball. His batting average was fifth-best and only nine points behind NL batting champion Charlie Blackmon.

It doesn’t seem possible, but Turner has been even better in the postseason. He exemplified that with his walk-off home run to win Game 2 of the NLCS against the Cubs. Overall, entering Wednesday night’s action, he was batting .363/.474/.613 in 97 postseason plate appearances. In Game 4, he went 2-for-2 with two walks, a single, and a solo home run. That increases his postseason slash line to .378/.495/.659, now across 101 plate appearances. That’s a 1.154 OPS. The career-high regular season OPS for future first-ballot Hall of Famer Albert Pujols was 1.114 in 2008, when he won his third career MVP Award. Statistically, in the postseason, Turner hits slightly better than Pujols did in the prime of his career. Of course, we should adjust for leagues and parks and all that, but to even be in that neighborhood is incredible.

In the age of stats, the concept of “clutch” has rightfully eroded. We don’t really allow players to ascend to godlike levels anymore like the way we did Derek Jeter, for instance. (Jeter’s career OPS in the playoffs, by the way, was a comparatively pitiful .838.) Turner isn’t clutch; he’s just a damn good hitter whose careful approach at the plate has allowed him to shine in the postseason and the Dodgers can’t imagine life without him.