If you haven't heard about Shohei Otani, here's the elevator pitch: he's a Japanese pitcher-slash-outfielder who is widely considered the best player in the world who isn't already in the majors -- yet, anyway.
Otani, 23, could well test baseball's willingness to let a player both pitch and play a defensive position on his non-start days. Some scouts have compared him to Justin Verlander on the mound, and Curtis Granderson in the batter's box. Appealing, right?
The one problem is -- well, just how teams will acquire Otani., and as of yet it's unclear if Major League Baseball intends to tweak things in order to bring Otani to North America. As Passan added:
New MLB rules keep teams from treating international players under 25 as true free agents. Otani is 23. The max he can get is $10.1M. 2/5— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) September 13, 2017
By coming for 2018, Otani is saying money is secondary. Which makes the Dodgers and Cubs, with $300K max to spend, plenty big threats. 4/5— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) September 13, 2017
Between these reports, and the increased scouting presence by New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers (among others), it seems increasingly likely that Otani will play in the majors in 2018. Until then, feel free to get your Otani fix by watching .with the