Japanese star Shohei Otani likely coming to Major League Baseball next season

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Yankees general manager Brian Cashman was among a throng of big-league executives to recently see Otani - a right-handed power pitcher and left-handed hitting slugger - play for the Nippon Ham Fighters. In five professional seasons, he's posted a.286/.359/.505 slash line and a 2.77 ERA in just under 500 innings, earning three All-Star appearances and the 2016 Pacific League MVP award along the way. Under MLB's new collective bargaining agreement, worldwide players must be at least 25 years old to escape the league's restrictive rules for amateur free agent signings, up from 23 under the old agreement. The LA Times reports that Major League Baseball teams are expecting Otani to sign with a team this offseason.

"I think, in reality, we can't really say if he can or can't do it", Masahiro Tanaka said through an interpreter. "I think it's great".

Because he's not waiting until age 25, Otani can be paid a max of $10.1 million, according to Yahoo! "They want to match up against the best to see how they fare, so I think it's great". Teams have hard caps and limited bonus pools they can use on worldwide free agents. Many already have spent significant amounts on Latin American amateurs.

With speculation rising that Otani will be in the big leagues next year, Bob, Groz and Tom dove deep into a conversation about his skill set and whether he would make sense as the Mariners' No. 1 priority to acquire for 2018.

The Yankees even traded for extra bonus poll money this summer, bumping their allotment from $4.875 million to $8 million, but four signings of Latino prospects cost the organization $3.85 million of that. He would not be eligible for salary arbitration until after the 2020 season and for free agency until after the 2023 season.

Tanaka worked out with Otani in Japan last offseason and while he hasn't stayed in contact with him, Tanaka knows that Otani has battled ankle and thigh injuries that have limited him to two starts so far this year.

"He's definitely intriguing", Girardi said.

"Could a guy pitch and DH some? think it's possible, " Girardi said. So to me, times where you need to go to a six-man rotation becomes a lot easier with that open spot. "So this is. I'm sure there's going to be a lot of attention on every team with his potential coming over here".

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