The Dodgers look to acquire a pitcher from Japan for their 2018 World Series run.
By Harrison McQuinn, Sports Editor
The World Series is still a fresh wound for all Angelenos who anticipated the appearance for decades, but a pitcher from Japan could be key in the Dodgers’ next run for the Fall Classic.
The Dodgers lost in the 2015 NLDS, then the 2016 NLCS, and finally the 2017 WS. If L.A. follows the same rhythm, Dodgers will become 2018 champions. Shohei Otani, who currently plays for Japan’s Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, may be a vital piece for the blue who struggled on the mound this last series.
The 2016 Pacific League MVP has all eyes on him this offseason and rightfully so. At the plate, Otani delivers left-handed uppercuts, but on the mound he throws right. His ambidexterity is just the tip of the diamond.
The 23 year old threw the fastest recorded pitch by a high schooler in Japan at 99 miles per hour, and the kid can hit, over 500-feet homers to be exact. Otani finished his 2017 season with a .332 batting average.
On top of throwing record fastballs, Otani is able to play outfield as well as designated hitter, making him incredibly versatile.
Otani stands just an inch shorter than his 6 foot 5 inch predecessor Yu Darvish, who wore the same number during his days with the Fighters. Perhaps that one inch accounts for Otani incredible speed.
The young ace averages under 4 seconds when running from the plate to first base. He’s ranked among the fastest players in MLB history including Astros’ Jose Altuve.
Before the Dodgers can pursue Otani, he first has to decide if he wants to surrender potentially hundreds of millions in Japan to enter the MLB as a free agent. Due to international player acquisition guidelines, Otani is looking at up to $4 million if he were to sign for 2018 compared to a projected $200 million if he decides to wait two years.
The Dodgers will seek out other free agents, expect the return of LF Andrew Toles as well as the call-up of Julio Urías, and hopefully avoid the sophomore jinx on Cody Bellinger; however, the powerful arm from Japan could be the most pivotal move for the Dodgers 2018 run.