Shohei Otani will have right ankle surgery on Tursday, 12 October. The Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) superstar is in his fifth season with the Nippon Ham Fighters, but is likely to leave his home country and sign for a Major League Baseball (MLB) team during the off season.
“I want to be in perfect condition for next season” was Otani’s comment.
Rehabilitation should take up to 3 months.
Otani injured himself while running the bases in the 2016 Japan Series. This compromised his whole 2017 season. He could not participate in the World Baseball Classic and appeared only in 65 games NPB regular season games. As a hitter he had a .332 batting average and 8 home runs over 63 games, as a pitcher he put together a 3-2 record in 5 starts (including one complete game),striking out 29 and allowing 9 runs over 25.1 innings (3.20 earned run average).
Shohei Otani was born in July 1994. He has expressed interest in playing in the United States in 2018, but MLB rules for international free agents of his age will force teams to sign Otani to a Minor League contract (for 3 years he would only earn US$ 500,000 per season) and the maximum signing bonus he could get wouldn’t exceed US$ 6 millions. If he signed after the 2019 season, he would be able to negotiate freely. Teams interested in signing him would need to invest US$ 20 millions to earn the rights to negotiate from the Ham Fighters.