Japanese stud pitcher/slugger Shohei Otani’s quest to come to Major League Baseball as soon as this offseason hit a snag when the posting agreement between MLB and the NPB (the highest professional league in Japan, where Otani plays) expired without a ready-made replacement.
That situation will still have to be resolved before Otani could come over, but he is still proceeding as though he’s on his way:
Sources: Shohei Ohtani has chosen CAA to represent him in the United States. Nez Balelo will be the lead agent.
— Dylan Hernandez (@dylanohernandez) November 7, 2017
With an American agency in tow, Otani (sometimes Ohtani) will more comfortably be able to negotiate the extremely tricky landscape in which he’ll find himself as a $200 million 23-year-old player who can sign for only relative pennies, thanks to the new CBA.
Some believe Otani will not care so much about the initial signing bonus (which would be great news for the Cubs, since they’re in the IFA penalty box and can offer only $300,000), and instead will be looking to sign a long-term extension as soon as practical under MLB’s watchful eye. That kind of arrangement is going to require a whole lot of trust between the agency and the team.
So, then, the selection of the agency here is a very big deal. For what it’s worth, CAA has only one current, active Cubs player under representation: Dillon Maples. Outgoing free agent Jon Jay, however, is also a client, and is represented specifically by Nez Balelo. (Re-sign Jon Jay immediately! I’m only kind of kidding!)
Balelo also represents free agents Nori Aoki and Andre Ethier, as well as Ryan Braun, Matt Garza, David Freese, Phil Hughes, Adam Jones, Skip Schumaker, Junichi Tazawa, and Jason Vargas, among others.
We’ll see where things go from here, but the selection of a U.S. agent could mean things are still rolling right along (as soon as a new posting agreement is worked out between MLB and NPB). Considering all circumstances, it would still probably be better for the Cubs if Otani were willing to wait another year (when the Cubs are out of the penalty box), or, more realistically, two years, when he’d be a totally fully free agent.
But, even if he comes this offseason, the Cubs will still somehow take their best swing at a generational talent.