Nick Nelson

Offseason Lowdown

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Lowdown: Here Comes Ohtani

Wednesday, November 22, 2017


Negotiations lingered well beyond Monday night's deadline, but by the time the dust settled on Tuesday, an agreement had finally been reached that paves the way for Japanese sensation Shohei Ohtani to make his way stateside this offseason.


MLB and its Players Association settled on using the existing NPB posting system this year, so $20 million is all it will take for the rights to bring Ohtani aboard on a minor-league deal. There's not a team in the league that wouldn't want to take that gamble so competition for the 23-year-old's services will be fierce.


It will take 10 days for the new deal to be ratified, so the phenom is officially set to be posted next weekend. Buckle up.


In Japan, Ohtani starred on the mound and at the plate. He sounds adamant about doing both in the major leagues. And here's the thing: If he feels strongly about it, he can basically command it. He holds all the cards. Some team will offer that opportunity – maybe most will. The tools on both sides are legit.


If Ohtani's big strikeout stuff transfers over every fifth day, and he gets any kind of regular at-bats in between, it goes without saying he could be a game-changing figure in fantasy baseball the likes of which we've never seen.  


Elsewhere around the league, it's been a busy week already. Here are some more developing stories to chew on over the next couple days, along with your turkey and stuffing.


Mets and Tigers Talking Kinsler


Now that the Tigers have formally committed to a rebuild, Ian Kinsler is a bit of an odd fit on the roster. The 35-year-old has one year on his contract and won't be all that useful to a team with little hope of contention, so it's unsurprising to see his name already floating around in trade rumors.


According to Jon Morosi, the Mets have engaged in preliminary talks over the veteran second baseman, and their involvement is even less surprising. Unlike Detroit, New York is in win-now mode with a pitching staff built for October. But they need help offensively, especially at second base with Neil Walker hitting free agency.


This seems like a very logical match and it's likely that Kinsler, owed $11 million next year coming off a career-low .725 OPS in 2017, wouldn't cost the Mets all that much to acquire.


Judge Gets Shoulder Scoped


Aaron Judge hit 52 home runs, posted a 1.049 OPS, won AL Rookie of the Year, and finished as MVP runner-up. Imagine what he could do with a healthy left shoulder all season.


The Yankees are hoping that will be the case in 2018, after the 25-year-old underwent arthroscopic surgery this week to remove loose bodies and clean up cartilage. The issue was known to be bothering Judge at times during the second half and surely contributed to his immense slump following the All Star break, though he shook it off enough to finish with a spectacular September.


He's expected to be ready to go next spring, and barring setbacks or complications this surgery doesn't figure to affect his draft positioning.


Hammer Drops on Atlanta


Penalties have now been levied upon the Atlanta Braves in connection with their violation of international signing rules under former GM John Coppolella.


Most notably, the Braves will be forced to part with 13 of their international signees, including highly regarded shortstop Kevin Maitan, who inked a $4.25 million bonus last summer. Maitan and 12 others are now free to sign with other MLB organizations, and many will be in high demand. It will be especially interesting to see where the 18-year-old Maitan lands.


Appel Falls Far


In June of 2013, Mark Appel was the No. 1 overall selection by the Houston Astros in the MLB draft, one year after declining to sign with the Pittsburgh Pirates, who'd taken him eighth. On Tuesday, he was designated for assignment by the Philadelphia Phillies following a completely unimpressive season with their Triple-A affiliate.


It's been a winding road for the Stanford product but since joining the pro ranks, it has pretty much been all downhill. He never really dominated any level of the minors and has been outright lousy at the higher levels. Still only 26 and clearly possessing tremendous innate talent, Appel will undoubtedly catch on with another organization. Maybe the right pitching coach can help him turn things around.


Quick Hits: The Marlins acquired first baseman Garrett Cooper from the Yankees, and he's a candidate to share playing time with Justin Bour at first base next year ... Reports indicate that the Giants are early front-runners in Giancarlo Stanton trade talks, which makes sense because they are desperately in need of the transformative offensive jolt his bat could provide ... With Jimmy Nelson expected to miss a sizable chunk of the 2018 season coming off shoulder surgery, the Brewers are eyeing frontline starters in the free agency marketing and Lance Lynn is said to be high on their list ... The Twins, meanwhile, are surveying the trade market in hopes of an upgrade, and have reportedly inquired about Gerrit Cole and Jake Odorizzi.



Nick Nelson is a frequent contributor to Rotoworld's baseball coverage and regularly blogs about the Minnesota Twins at Twins Daily. Follow him on Twitter @NickNelsonMN.
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