Blue Jays pick up scouting of Otani, but deal is unlikely


Blue Jays pick up scouting of Otani, but deal is unlikely
  1. Blue Jays pick up scouting of Otani, but deal is unlikely
    sportsnet.ca
    While the Toronto Blue Jays have rapidly picked up their scouting of Shohei Otani, actually securing his signature is both complicated and unlikely given his…
    All Sports

TORONTO – The less-than-illustrious list of Japanese-born players to suit up for the Toronto Blue Jays runs from Micheal Nakamura in 2004 to Nori Aoki this year, bookending the service of Tomo Ohka, Ryota Igarashi and enduring fan favourite Munenori Kawasaki. Left-hander Ken Takahashi, the only player signed directly from the Land of The Rising Sun, on a minor-league deal at that, made it through a month of spring training before he was released. A revered pantheon of franchise heroes it is not.

To be fair, it’s not surprising given that Japan and Asia were largely ignored by the Blue Jays up until 2013, when the highly respected Dan Evans took over as the team’s head of Pacific Rim operations. Even with his wide network of contacts and relentless work in the region, one man can only establish so much of a foothold, especially with the club’s scouting resources almost solely directed to the far more fertile player pools in Latin America internationally and on the amateur side in North America.

All of which brings us to the present and the tantalizing possibility of Shohei Otani, the pitching/slugging Japanese sensation the Nippon Ham Fighters have reportedly agreed to post this winter.

The Blue Jays, like any responsible club, have picked up their scouting of the 23-year-old in recent weeks, with Evans joined by director of pro scouting Ryan Mittleman and major-league scouts Jon Lalonde and Jim Skaalen, among others at recent games. Mittleman is aiming to extend the club’s presence on the Pacific Rim and assistant general manager Andrew Tinnish is still in the country as the Blue Jays try to get a variety of looks at him from different staffers. It’s an aggressive posture that extends beyond the type of due diligence they’ve done for hyped stars like Yu Darvish and Masahiro Tanaka ahead of their postings.

The temptation is to put two and two together and believe they’re gearing up for a serious run at Otani, which they very well might be. But getting his signature on a contract isn’t as simple as backing up a truck of money and dumping it on his lawn.

Since he’s under 25, his bonus would count against a team’s international bonus pool, which is hard capped between $4.75 to $5.75 million depending on a club’s market size and revenue. Teams can acquire up to 75 per cent of their pool allotment via trade, and even if some do, the separation in dollars will still be relatively limited versus all but the 11 teams, including the Dodgers and Cubs, who can’t offer more than $300,000 as a penalty for previous overages.

The Blue Jays are better off in that regard but are still largely tapped out of their $4.75 million bonus pool after spending big on July 2 international free agents, headlined by the $1.4 million given to right-hander Eric Pardinho. They did acquire some pool room from the St. Louis Cardinals in a trade for minor-leaguer Lane Thomas back in July, but have only slightly more than $1 million to work with right now.

Still, as detailed by Sportsnet’s Arden Zwelling in a thorough and excellent feature on Otani from February, money doesn’t seem like it will be the sole factor at play here, although some sort of side deal for a nine-figure extension may very well be part of the negotiation (Dave Cameron at FanGraphs ran through some of the possibilities). Rather, situation and fit will be important and perhaps the Blue Jays’ limited history with Japanese players becomes a factor.

Of the group to have played in Toronto, only Kawasaki spent an extended period of time with the club, appearing in 201 games from 2013-15. He speaks very well of the Blue Jays and has fond memories of the city as his firs…

  1. CHL Power Rankings: Top nine storylines of the 2017-18 season

    Sportsnet.ca - All sports
    09.20 / 19:37 www.sportsnet.ca
    The first games of the CHL season start on Thursday night, so Sam Cosentino gets us started with nine of the best storylines to follow during the…
  2. Watch Live: Blue Jays’ Marco Estrada meets with media

    Sportsnet.ca - All sports
    09.20 / 18:56 www.sportsnet.ca
    Watch live at 3 p.m. ET/12 p.m. PT as Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Marco Estrada meets with the media to discuss his one-year…
  3. Tigers claim HCFL tournament title; A’s runners-up

    Mitchelladvocate.com - All Sports
    09.20 / 18:46 www.mitchelladvocate.com
    The Brussels Tigers, despite missing the league’s best pitcher, claimed their seventh Huron County Fastball League (HCFL) championship this past weekend in L…
  4. Blue Jays sign Marco Estrada to one-year, $13-million extension

    Sportsnet.ca - All sports
    09.20 / 17:50 www.sportsnet.ca
    The Toronto Blue Jays have signed right-handed pitcher Marco Estrada to a one-year, $13-million contract…
  5. Urban renewal: This year's breakout Canadian now starts for Ravens

    Elliotlakestandard.ca - All Sports
    Brent Urban's ascendancy in four years as an NFL player can’t be plotted on a straight l…
  6. Urban renewal: This year's breakout Canadian now starts for Ravens

    Edmontonexaminer.com - All Sports
    09.20 / 17:18 www.edmontonexaminer.com
    Brent Urban's ascendancy in four years as an NFL player can’t be plotted on a straight l…
  7. Urban renewal: This year's breakout Canadian now starts for Ravens

    Fairviewpost.com - All Sports
    09.20 / 17:18 www.fairviewpost.com
    Brent Urban's ascendancy in four years as an NFL player can’t be plotted on a straight l…
  8. Urban renewal: This year's breakout Canadian now starts for Ravens

    Pinchercreekecho.com - All Sports
    09.20 / 17:18 www.pinchercreekecho.com
    Brent Urban's ascendancy in four years as an NFL player can’t be plotted on a straight l…
  9. Urban renewal: This year's breakout Canadian now starts for Ravens

    Cochranetimespost.ca - All Sports
    09.20 / 17:18 www.cochranetimespost.ca
    Brent Urban's ascendancy in four years as an NFL player can’t be plotted on a straight l…
  10. Down Goes Brown: New Season’s Resolutions for 2017–18

    Sportsnet.ca - All sports
    09.20 / 16:23 www.sportsnet.ca
    NHL pre-season is four days old, which means it’s time for some New Season’s Resolutions. First up? Let’s not all freak out about the new faceoff rule just…
  11. Boxer Jake LaMotta, immortalized in ‘Raging Bull,’ dies at 95

    Sportsnet.ca - All sports
    09.20 / 15:39 www.sportsnet.ca
    Jake LaMotta, the former middleweight champion whose life was depicted in the film "Raging Bull," has died at the age of…
  12. Leo Komarov’s visor style ruled illegal: ‘It’s how I play forever’

    Sportsnet.ca - All sports
    09.20 / 13:48 www.sportsnet.ca
    The crash-and-bang veteran is well known for wearing his protective shield comically/riskily high up on his helmet, to the point where it guards his forehead and not much else. He was asked to change his ways Tuesday…
  13. Guelph Storm Release Levi Tetrault

    Cksn.ca - All Sports
    09.20 / 10:48 cksn.ca
    Pain Court’s Levi Tetrault had an uphill battle with the OHL’s Guelph Storm after they made several offseason acquisitions to bolster their blueline. The end result was Tetrault and the Storm parting ways this week. Tetrault, who was a 4th round pick of the Storm in 2015, will skate with the GOJHL’s Brantford 99ers this The post Guelph Storm Release Levi Tetrault appeared first on Chatham-Kent Sports…
  14. Dane Fox On Fire In Germany

    Cksn.ca - All Sports
    09.20 / 04:57 cksn.ca
    Thamesville’s Dane Fox is proving his scoring touch is good on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, as the 23-year-old forward got off to a hot start with the DEL’s Nurnberg Ice Tigers. Fox, who signed with Nurnberg this offseason scored 3 goals and 3 assists in his first 3 games with Nurnberg, good for The post Dane Fox On Fire In Germany appeared first on Chatham-Kent Sports…
  15. Patrick Marleau takes one more step in new direction with Leafs

    Sportsnet.ca - All sports
    09.20 / 04:49 www.sportsnet.ca
    Patrick Marleau spent 19 years with the San Jose Sharks before finally playing a game somewhere else. It went well, with the 38-year-old scoring on his sixth…
  16. Jose Bautista’s time with Blue Jays coming to sharp conclusion

    Sportsnet.ca - All sports
    09.20 / 03:47 www.sportsnet.ca
    The end is coming quickly for Jose Bautista, the greatest outfielder the Toronto Blue Jays have ever had, and one of the most charismatic athletes Toronto has ever…
  17. Burgdoerfer scores go-ahead goal as Senators top Leafs in pre-season

    Sportsnet.ca - All sports
    09.20 / 02:41 www.sportsnet.ca
    Erik Burgdoerfer scored the go-ahead goal midway through the third period as the Ottawa Senators defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-2 on Tuesday night in pre-season…
  18. Jose Bautista ties Blue Jays’ all-time single-season strikeout record

    Sportsnet.ca - All sports
    09.20 / 02:18 www.sportsnet.ca
    Jose Bautista tied the Blue Jays’ all-time single season strikeout record with his 159th whiff of the season on…
  19. Kings Sign Underager Aidan Lachine

    Cksn.ca - All Sports
    09.20 / 02:05 cksn.ca
    The Dresden Kings signed 16-year-old forward Aidan Lachine of Kent Bridge as their underage player Tuesday night. After not originally committing to an underager, the Kings added Lachine days after the season began. Last season, Lachine was the leading scorer of the Chatham-Kent Cyclones Minor Midget ‘AAA’ team scoring 11 goals and 27 points in The post Kings Sign Underager Aidan Lachine appeared first on Chatham-Kent Sports…
  20. Barney drives in three, Stroman works seven innings in Jays’ win

    Sportsnet.ca - All sports
    09.20 / 01:57 www.sportsnet.ca
    Darwin Barney hit a two-run homer and Marcus Stroman turned in a strong seven-inning performance as the Toronto Blue Jays defeated the Kansas City Royals 5-2 on Tuesday…