I’m really hoping that we don’t need to start our full-court offseason coverage for another few weeks, but even if the Cubs season ended tonight, anything about Shohei Otani, especially surgery, is worth following closely.
Indeed, the Japanese superstar, two-way player, and future MLBer Shohei Otani underwent surgery on his ankle today and it was reportedly a success. The rehabilitation period is expected to be about three months long, which means he’ll be ready for Spring Training 2018.
As for the immediate future, Otani will rehab in a medical facility for about two-three weeks, before moving to the Fighters’ minor league facility (his team in Japan). Of course, he’s reportedly also still expected to come to the United States this winter, so his rehab plan could change as soon as those negotiations are settled and his MLB team trainers get a first-hand look.
As for the surgery, itself, apparently it was needed to address an injury that actually happened last year around this time, but lingered throughout the season. And although ankle injuries are tough, they’re obviously far less scary for a pitcher than an arm/elbow/shoulder injury would be.
Furthermore, because Otani’s earning-ability is artificially capped by the IFA rules and bonus limits, I can’t see this affecting how much money he ultimately signs for in the offseason. Every team will still try and every team will still offer what they can. The one way this could potentially and negatively affect the pitcher, however, is in attempts to set up a wink-wink, nudge-nudge extension set to take place one year down the line.
I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that whatever extension he ultimately gets one year after signing was actually one of multiple potential extensions based on his health/usage in 2018. We’d probably never hear any details/specifics, but, yeah, I could totally see teams suggesting something along the lines of: “If you hit X number of innings, you get $100 million, Y number of innings $150 million,” etc.
I’m not sure if Otani’s ankle will cost him any innings or at-bats next season, but I’d be willing to bet teams are more serious about those cutoffs now than they were before. And depending on how much Otani is willing to bet on his own health, then, could ultimately decide how much he’ll earn as a Major Leaguer.