Shohei Otani throws like Noah Syndergaard and hits like Curtis Granderson. The New York Mets are interested and prepared to take their best shot.
I’m old enough to remember back to September 2017 when reports surfaced that the Mets would not be sending a scout to watch Shohei Otani showcase his highly touted ability on the diamond.
Why didn't the Mets scout Japanese two-way star Shohei Otani? https://t.co/RI7tnStPc6 pic.twitter.com/0w8jdTJPD3
— MetsBlog.com (@metsblog) September 13, 2017
Hysteria ensued from Mets fans. To put it kindly, there’s a reason Mets Twitter has earned the nickname “Panic City,” and the panic was out in full force that day.
Now here we are, just a few months later and the Mets are reportedly setting their sights on making a serious bid for the 23-year-old, two-way Japanese star.
Sources tell @DPLennon and I that the Mets are weighing a pursuit of Japanese star Shohei Otani. Here’s the news story and a column:https://t.co/q3uXUu703dhttps://t.co/vonON1kigM
— Marc Carig (@MarcCarig) November 15, 2017
And the most exciting part, especially when it comes to the Mets, is Otani’s lack of care for a hefty salary. He is expected to require a posting fee of roughly $20 million, but due to international signing restrictions, Otani will be leaving a large sum of money on the table by heading to the MLB for the 2018 season.
Shohei Ohtani is bypassing the opportunity to set himself for a contract possibly worth $200+ million, which he could do by waiting two years to jump to MLB. Given that context: Why would we believe a few hundred thousand dollars in slot money is difference-making?
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) November 15, 2017
The only hurdles that will stand in the way of the Mets’ pursuit are the 29 other organizations that will undoubtedly be ready to pounce on an opportunity to so much as talk to the international star.
For that reason, the Mets will need to put together a convincing sales pitch, one that general manager Sandy Alderson has already begun working on.
Coming off a season in which he slashed .332/.403/.540 with eight home runs and 31 RBIs in just 65 games, you can understand the buzz forming around the league.
But if posting a .943 OPS at 22-years-old isn’t enough, a .1004 OPS at 21 takes the cake.
The kid can flat out play and the Curtis Granderson comparisons at the dish from some scouts might be underselling his sweet lefty swing.
Shohei Otani’s swing is beautiful. pic.twitter.com/QxESBhTa9B
— Max Wildstein (@MaxWildstein) November 15, 2017
That looks more like the sweet swing of young Mets star Michael Conforto. Which of course is where Otani would be stationed, in right field next to Yoenis Cespedes and Conforto.
Two of the Mets most pivotal needs this offseason are in the starting rotation and outfield. It would be revolutionary to fill two needs with one player, and Alderson agrees.
Alderson on the allure of Otani: pic.twitter.com/cmILBaMcnU
— Marc Carig (@MarcCarig) November 15, 2017
And no matter how intriguing you find Otani’s bat, his pitching is what will really leave you in awe.
He’s thrown 543 innings since his 18-year-old rookie year and has compiled a 42-15 record with a 2.52 ERA and a 10.3 K/9 rate.
Just take a look at the pure domination below to get the picture.
Shohei Otani will be pitching here in the majors in 2018. He is pretty good. pic.twitter.com/I070GZbsu1
— Max Wildstein (@MaxWildstein) November 10, 2017
Just the thought of inserting Otani into a rotation that already includes the likes of Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom is tantalizing. And the opportunities are endless when it comes to his deployment.
The Mets could deploy a six-man rotation featuring Syndergaard, deGrom, Otani, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler.
Or Otani could pitch on one designated day of the week. Mets fans are familiar with one of the team’s pitchers having a day named after him.
Then there are the bench opportunities. An extra pitcher could be rostered because Otani would be available to pinch hit on his off days.
Mickey Callaway could jog out to the mound for the ball, take it, and then call in Otani from the outfield as if Citi Field was actually in Williamsport, Pennsylvania and we were all watching a Little League Game.
I for one think the most fascinating possibility would be pitting Syndergaard up against Otani in a batting practice Home Run Derby. Two power right-handed pitchers hitting balls out of the park form the left batters’ box, what a show it would be.
It’s all so fun to imagine and theorize about, which makes the fact that it is a possibility all the more exciting. Wherever Otani ends up, as a Mets fan right now, all that matters are the possibilities.