Shohei Otani: A Dream Itself Is But A Shadow

It’s always nice to take the time in this hurry and drift off into another place that comforts the harm that sits restless in us all. When I used to commute from the Beaches to downtown Toronto on the 501 Queen streetcar, I would stare out the window and just let my mind be free from the moment and the work that waited ahead. It was the best part of my day because I didn’t have to think about anything specific and my mind could just wander through its wonder until York St. came and the reality of my day with it.

It’s hard to find any human out there who really doesn’t enjoy to dream, but often the hope that attaches itself to the dream is what often leads to bleak and morose feelings when reality offers its different tale. We can all try to dream up our future, but there is no method or formula that can control the direction that it will take us. It takes us. And when it hits us hard and in ways we least expected, we have to move forward regardless of our inabilities to see it coming and then accept it with open arms too. That’s the fun and hard times in this thing called life.

So here we now stand as Blue Jays baseballs fans, as the offseason has officially begun – sort of. And it is during this down time, that many Blue Jays bloggers out there will offer you up some thought on the needs of the organization and the who that should fill them. I’m not about to tell you who the team should sign in the offseason, or who they should trade, but I do have some ideas just as all of you have too. I might write about them, and I might not. I’m really not too sure at this point.

So reports went out last week regarding the projections for the Birds’ arbitration-eligible players, which gave fans a better understanding of how much money the Toronto FO has to address these needs, and it looks like they’re going to have $20 - $25 million to spend in the offseason. And since the end-of-season press conference where Atkins said that the Blue Jays aim to add one impact arm and one impact position player this offseason, it makes us all kind of wonder who, of course.

And what exactly does the word impact actually mean. Impact is a particular word that rolled off Atkins’ tongue, but I’m not sure it’s going to fulfill some pipe-offseason-dreams that some of you may have.

Are the Blue Jays going to sign a pitcher like Alex Cobb? Or are they going to go after someone like Tyler Chatwood who was the hardest thrower in the MLB according to Fangraphs with an average 94.6 mph fastball, I dunno. Is a pitcher like this an impact arm? He went 8 – 15 for the Rockies this season with a 4.69 ERA and 2.1 WAR. We can all toss our ‘two cents of whatever’, but who really knows who these impact players will be.

But let’s be honest with one another here folks, there is one player out there that we all really want to see the Blue Jays sign in the offseason and that’s, of course, Shohei Otani. And it is fun to dream, but is it a possible reality? To be honest, I’m not sure, and I wouldn’t bet on it, but I still like to dream it.

I was really curious about what the Japanese media were saying about Otani since he announced that he will be traveling to North America to play ball next season. So I asked my Japanese friend, Ryotaro, to interpret some articles that were written about Otani in Japan, so that I could understand their thought about where this prodigious entity will land. He immediately jumped in and said that he has read many reports in Japan that believe he will become a San Diego Padre. But the problem with the Padres is that they are limited to $300, 000 in spending in this upcoming international period, as they have been penalized for violating the cap under the previous CBA.

And there are eleven other teams that are also limited to only $300, 000 too and they are – the Cubs, Giants, Cardinals, A’s, Braves, White Sox, Nationals, Astros, Royals, Reds, and Dodgers. So what this means is that Otani, who has already claimed it’s not about the money, would have to take a significant pay cut to play for any of these clubs. And it really isn’t about the money because he could just wait a couple years and make the international bonus ‘big dream kind of cash,’ but he doesn’t want to. The money will come if he lives up to the holy-hell-hype, so maybe it doesn’t matter that the Padres can’t pay the young man today.

So back to the Japanese press, my friend said that in Japan they are referring to it as, ‘the scramble for Otani’. Now, the media in Japan recognizes that he is heading over to the MLB before he is 25 and they understand the bargain that he is, for now. So they too are confused about where he will go even though San Diego continues to be a reoccurring thought by some of the writers over there. One article from Japan said that the Dodgers, Yankees, Padres, Rangers, and Mariners scouted him the hardest at the Nippon Ham’s games. In this same article the writer recognizes the financial penalty that the Dodgers and Padres have moving forward into the international market, so he makes the conclusion that Otani will end up being either a Yankee, Ranger, or Mariner, which, if this is true, completely sucks – but wouldn’t surprise me. In this same article the writer notes that many reporters say that Otani wants to play for the Padres, but who knows if his San Diego dream will come true.

The article goes on to discuss how he is best suited for the AL because he can hit DH on his off days, which is a big factor for him when he makes his decision. And why the hell wouldn’t it be? In 2016, the left-handed hitter (yes, perfect for the Blue Jays) hit 22 dingers and slashed a .322/.416/.588 in 323 at bats. He is a right-handed pitcher who hurls in the mid to high 90s, with some pretty awesome secondary stuff from the scouting reports that I’ve read about him. Otani went 10 – 4 in 2016 with an are-you-kidding-me 1.86 ERA and a 0.957WHIP in 140 innings while tossing up 174 Ks too. And, yeah, sure these numbers will be different in the MLB, but this kid is the serious prize this offseason, don’t you think? And he literally would be the impact player who could address almost all of the Blue Jays’ needs.

The sad thing here folks, is that that our Otani dream is really just that, a dream. And I’m not about to shit on this dream because I want it to happen too. However, I am going to tell you that you should make sure that 'hope' doesn’t attach itself to this 'dream' because it will disappoint the hell out of you when the news breaks and Otani ends up signing wherever the hell he does.

The Japanese media are calling it ‘the scramble for Otani’ and that is spot on. I wish Toronto was the organization that he dreams to play on, but sadly it’s not. It seems to be San Diego, but that Otani dream may not come true. And let me tell you something, if Otani were to say sign with the Yankees, he might just turn into a goddamn nightmare for the Jays.

So enjoy the Otani dream this offseason and I dream to hell that he becomes a Blue Jay, but my biggest hope is that he doesn’t become a Yankee. And I hope that this hope doesn’t end up hurting my baseball self in the future. Why? Because I have a fundamental antipathy to the New York Yankees.

I guess, the main selling point for the Blue Jays will be that the organization is in a respectable country (not perfect but damn okay) compared to the good ol’ USA, and that he can pitch and DH here too.

Personally, I think Kendrys Morales would make an excellent hitting instructor for Otani, you?

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