Shohei Otani may not be U.S.-bound after all
All year long, we’ve been hearing that Japanese superstar is going to come stateside for the 2018 season. This, somewhat surprisingly, did not change when the new CBA destroyed the earning power for players like Otani when he introduced a hard cap in the international market. When this rule was implemented, it seemed to make sense that Otani would wait a couple years when he could actually be paid what he was worth. Instead, it seemed that this didn’t matter to him and he was ready to come over as soon as possible. This has been the working theory until Thursday, when Jon Heyman reported that there was a snag in the posting system between Japan and the U.S. The issue is that the teams still want the same amount of money for their player leaving for the United States despite the player getting a significantly smaller salary. Players, understandably, have an issue with this, and Otani may decide not to come over anyway. Now, there’s something of a standoff between the player — who absolutely deserves to be paid a lot more than he will be under this current system — and MLB — who says he needs to wait two years if he wants to be paid. It’s entirely possible that this is all posturing by the most exciting baseball player in the world and that he’ll come over after all of this, but it’s strange that the league is tempting fate like this and not doing everything in their power to make sure such a dynamic talent isn’t part of their league. As for the Red Sox, they would obviously prefer that he come over and the hard cap become eliminated for him, as it would allow them to use their financial muscle to entice the two-way superstar. I wouldn’t bet on that happening, though.
Justin Upton stays in Los Angeles
The first major move of the offseason came on Thursday when Justin Upton decided to head back to the Angels on a new five-year deal. The outfielder had an opt-out he could have exercised at the end of the year, and he played well enough to justify doing so. Instead, he and the Angels restructured his deal and added another guaranteed year on the back end. His contract now carries him through 2022. This is a big deal for the Red Sox. Although Upton wasn’t really mentioned much as a possible target, he was set to be one of the biggest bats on the market and would have made a ton of sense as a backup plan to J.D. Martinez if Giancarlo Stanton’s price in a trade was deemed too much. Now, that title likely goes to someone like Jay Bruce, who is fine but a massive downgrade from Upton.
- The A’s exercised their team option in Jed Lowrie’s contract. This is far from a surprise, but it’s official that if the Red Sox want him back, it’ll have to be via trade.
- Ruben Amaro Jr. was hired as the Mets new first base coach. As it turns out, the two teams did a swap of first base coaches. Okay then. You will be missed as one of the strangest stories on the team for the last two years, Ruben.
- The Mariners declined their option on Hisashi Iwakuma’s deal. He’ll turn 37 at the start of next year and missed most of 2017 due to injury. Still, he could be had on a minor-league deal and there are worse possible depth signings than the right-handed veteran.