Recently, we learned that Shohei Otani was expected to sign a deal with one of the 30 Major League teams this winter, regardless of how much money he’d leave on the table by not waiting just another two years.
Of course, without actually yet being posted, those reports were just really strong rumors, without a specific guarantee (don’t get me wrong, it sure sounded like it was going to/will happen, but it’s not necessary a lock).
But if you’re looking for further confirmation that Otani will play stateside next summer, here it is: Shohei Otani is reportedly interviewing prospecting agents.
Which, yeah, I’m not sure you’d waste your time looking for one right now, if you weren’t planning on coming over soon.
According to Jon Heyman, Otani has been represented by a lawyer in a few early meetings and his “team” will choose from a group of prominent US agents. Apparently, they’re even planning on narrowing down the potential agents into a smaller group for second-round interviews. Among those considered to be in the mix, are some familiar names:
- Wasserman (led by Joel Wolfe and Adam Katz)
- Octagon (led by Alan Nero)
- The Legacy Agency
- The Scott Boras Corporation
When asked for comments, many of these groups declined (naturally), and Jon Heyman did add that a few other groups – Excel (run by Casey Close), CAA (Brodie Van Wagenen) and John Boggs – have significant experience representing Japanese stars, in particular.
It’s hard to really say if one agent strengthens the Cubs chances versus another, but these are all people, at the end of the day, and people have relationships. And those relationships could be important where trust is a big factor in the signing. Ultimately, of course, it’ll be the player’s choice.
If you recall, the American League seems to have the slight advantage in the hunt for Otani, given that 1) he could DH there and 2) the Rangers/Yankees have the most IFA space/money to throw at him this winter, but there are obviously so many more variables than that (especially if teams find a way to guarantee an early-career extension of hundreds of millions of dollars). In the end, I think Otani’s personal preference may play a large role.
But we’re getting far ahead of ourselves, because the news for today is further confirmation that Otani is taking the move to the United States serious, and looks to be planning on a leap this offseason.