Everything from a couple of months ago said that Japanese phenom Shohei Otani had his heart set on playing in the U.S., with the Dodgers, Rangers and Red Sox all pursuing him. However, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times is told by a source that Otani may remain in Japan.
Otani, an 18-year-old right-hander, was selected by the Nippon Ham Fighters in the first round of Japan’s draft in October, but he’s still free to come to the U.S. if he wants. Despite the new rules governing international signings, Otani seems likely to land a deal north of $20 million if he chooses to make the jump across the Pacific.
In a less-notable move on Friday, the Rays acquired right-hander Wilmer Font from the Athletics in exchange for minor league right-hander Peter Bayer. Font was designated for assignment by the A’s on Wednesday.
This is the second trade involving the righty since the start of the season. The Athletics acquired 28-year-old Font from the Dodgers in late April, but were underwhelmed by his performance after he racked up 11 runs, five home runs, four walks and nine strikeouts in his first 6 2/3 innings of relief. While the rookie has yet to prove himself at the big league level, he posted a much more respectable pitching line with the Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliate in 2017, going 10-8 in 25 starts with a 3.42 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 11.9 SO/9 in 134 1/3 innings. It’s still unclear whether the Rays intend to give him another opportunity in the majors this year or use him as depth in the minors.
Bayer, 24, is still a ways away from cracking any major league roster. He advanced to High-A Charlotte prior to the trade and allowed eight runs, two homers, six walks and six strikeouts in his first four innings.