Kim Klement/USA Today Sports

Why Red Sox might actually have chance to land Shohei Otani

Rob Bradford
November 14, 2017 - 5:52 pm

ORLANDO -- It should be made perfectly clear that when it comes to Shohei Otani, there is a lot of guessing going on.

The presidents and general managers don't know exactly when Otani will be posted by his Japanese club, the Nippon Ham Fighters. ("I would hope it's before the winter meetings, but I really don't know," said one American League GM Tuesday.) And those teams chasing the pitcher/slugger will also admit they truly don't know what the 23-year-old's mindset is going into his potential free agency.

But there are a lot of educated guesses, and one them might actually offer some optimism for the Red Sox.

Multiple general managers at the GM meetings have told WEEI.com that it is their understanding that the signing bonus won't be a primary driving force for Otani when he is choosing his team. Why is that good for the Sox? Because they are on the low end of what can be offered to the righty pitcher/lefty hitter, maxing out at $462,000. The teams with the most to offer include the Rangers ($3,335,000), the Yankees ($3.25 million) and Twins ($3,245,000).

Under the new rules, Otani is only eligible to make whatever signing bonus is afforded each team, along with the major-league minimum upon hitting the big leagues. Teams will ultimately be forced to extend a $20 million posting fee to earn the right to negotiate with the player, who has 30 days to sign with a team once the posting process is put in motion. If a club does not agree to terms with Otani, it will have the $20 million returned.

Another plus the Red Sox have going for them is the relationship they built with the player, dating back to when the Sox' front office met with Otani as a high-schooler. Boston has regularly scouted the two-way threat, with scout Shun Kakazu following his participation in the NPB this season.

While Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski couldn't address the Otani situation directly, he did offer an example of how the organization would be equipped to make such a move seamless for the player.

"There hasn't been a player posted, yet. So I'm not allowed to speak on hypotheticals," Dombrowski said Tuesday. "But it's a situation where, from our organization, the way we're situated, we're very open to any type of cultural background. We have a lot of individuals that speak Spanish. We have a lot of individuals that speak Japanese. We have somebody who speaks Korean. Within our system, Taiwanese. So you try and create as much flexibility as you can there to try and be open. So we're cognizant of that and we try and help ourselves."

(To read more about Otani's situation, and the Red Sox' interest, click here.)

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