Ohtani not heading east (is pitching market about to move?)

Is Japan’s Shohei Ohtani too good to be true? He sounds like it. His move to the major leagues is unique in two huge ways. First, some team will get a player that might be worth $200 million or more on the open market for perhaps $25 million or less, counting the posting fee. Second, Ohtani is a two-way player who might impact games as both a pitcher and a hitter.

While Orioles fans are probably disappointed that their team is not on his final list of seven teams, there was never an indication that the Orioles had much of a chance - maybe any - to get Ohtani. O’s fans ,however, must be breathing a sigh of relief that Ohtani will not be signing with the New York Yankees or Boston Red Sox either.

His final list of seven teams includes the Dodgers, Giants, Angels, Padres, Mariners, Rangers, and Cubs. As a player under 25, Ohtani’s signing is subject to international bonus pools, which have a hard cap. The most he could get as a signing bonus is the $3.535 million Texas has remaining in its pool.

In New York, the word “shock” seems to apply. National reporters and New York media seem shocked that Ohtani will not meet with the Yankees. It seems not everyone loves New York. Maybe they didn’t get that memo. Ohtani, we are told, has a preference for a West Coast team, even though his final list does include the Rangers and Cubs.

Scouts rate Ohtani’s fastball as 80 on the 20-80 scale. He can throw 100 mph, maybe more. They rank his split-finger pitch at 65-70. But they also rate his power at 65 and he is a 65 runner, one that can sprint to first base as rapidly as Mike Trout. Yep, he sounds too good to be true.

He is the Japanese Babe Ruth, minus the desire to consume hot dogs. We will see him in the majors in 2018, just not playing for an American League East team.

The starting pitching market: It has been slow to develop at this point, as has basically the entire free agent market for both hitters and pitchers. With the Winter Meetings starting next week, it’s been a slow go so far. But that may be about to change.

Last night, the Rangers reached agreement with lefty Mike Minor after earlier signing Doug Fister to a one-year deal worth $4 million. Texas might try Minor as a starter after he pitched so well out of the Kansas City bullpen in 2016. He went 6-6 with an ERA of 2.55 for the Royals and had impressive rate stats. He allowed 6.6 hits per nine innings along with 2.7 walks and 10.2 strikeouts.

But Minor also has a history that includes missing the 2015 and 2016 seasons after shoulder surgery. So a return to any rotation for him could be dicey. He did pitch 205 innings for Atlanta in 2013 before his shoulder issues.

duquette-at-opacy.jpgAll quiet from the Orioles so far, besides several minor league signings. It is possible that some things could be percolating out of the media spotlight, but so far they have been linked to a few pitchers and are said to have interest in others. But beyond that, nothing much has been reported about the club.

Will the Orioles soon emerge with some additions for their rotation? Even after a hot stove season devoid of many rumors or speculation to this point?

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