There some rare things in the game of baseball; the rarest of which being a pitcher-slugger combo. Shohei Otani presents just that and the Dodgers should take advantage.
The Los Angeles Dodgers are undoubtedly going to be spenders this offseason. Coming just one win shy of World Series supremacy, with a lot of money freed up, the Dodgers front office may play extremely aggressive. There may be no better option to spend on this offseason than Japanese wonder Shohei Otani.
The Dodgers are no stranger to international signings. In 2012 the Dodgers signed current right fielder Yasiel Puig to a seven-year, $42 million contract. Four years later, prior to the 2016 season, Los Angeles signed Kenta Maeda to an eight-year, $25 million contract loaded with incentives.
Although the team missed out on other big stars such as Yu Darvish or Masahiro Tanaka, an Andrew Friedman led front office is capable of anything. Thus, the Dodgers have been thrown into the Otani sweepstakes.
Otani is the most polarizing international star of the bunch for one simple reason. Not only can the six-foot-three right-hander excel on the mound, he can be an above-average MLB hitter at the plate.
The way MLB teams approach Otani will be interesting. While his pitching may be his most lucrative asset, teams definitely will still be lured in by Otani’s offense. Only using him at the plate every five games seems asinine.
However, MLB teams are products of routine and the problem does lie that hitting every single day can get Otani out of a pitching habit. Plus, playing the field risks injury. An American League team is the best option on paper as Otani can also become a full-time DH.
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Although the Dodgers do not have the DH luxury, that should not shy the team away from playing very aggressive for Otani. Los Angeles needs a right-handed number two pitcher behind Clayton Kershaw more than anything. Otani is just that.
Otani’s offense is just an added bonus for the Dodgers. It is possible to fit Otani in somehow; perhaps by playing him at first and moving Cody Bellinger to left. However, Otani most likely would be a late-game pinch hitter and situational positioned player. Realistically, that may be his best route in the MLB.
Otani’s last full season came in 2016; in 2017, Otani only pitched in five games. However, in 2016, Otani held a 10-4 record with a 1.86 ERA and 174 strikeouts in 140 innings. Offensively, Otani hit .322 with 22 home runs in 104 games played.
Otani reportedly signed a United States agent as well. Otani is yet to officially become up for grabs this offseason. However, this is a great sign for any team looking to pursue his rare skill set.
The Los Angeles Dodgers must be one of those teams. Otani is the first pitcher to be this highly touted on both sides of the coin. Thus, Los Angeles cannot afford to allow him to slip from its’ grasps.