Reds among teams interested in Japan’s ‘Babe Ruth’

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Reds among teams interested in Japan’s ‘Babe Ruth’

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AP Photo/Toru Takahashi, File
FILE - In this Nov. 19, 2015, file photo, Japan's starter Shohei Otani pitches against South Korea during the first inning of their semifinal game at the Premier12 world baseball tournament at Tokyo Dome in Tokyo. Shohei Otani is likely to leave Japan and sign with a Major League Baseball team after this season, multiple reports in Japanese media said Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017, a move that would cost the 23-year-old pitcher and outfielder more than $100 million.

Reds general manager Dick Williams was among those in attendance Wednesday to watch Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani pitch for the Nippon Ham Fighters.

Ohtani, 23, is expected to enter the American free-agent market this offseason. While larger market teams such as the Dodgers and Yankees are considered favorites, the Reds have surprised competitors before (Aroldis Chapman, anyone?).

"I want to let the fans know we are serious about our investment in Asia," Williams told mlb.com. He also met with the Ham Fighters general manager but couldn’t meet Ohtani because of rules restriction.

Ohtani pitched a 10-strikeout, two-hit shutout. He also collected a hit. Ohtani is often referred to as a Japanese Babe Ruth, a rare talent who excels at hitting and pitching.

But Ohtani will require a posting fee plus his salary. It’s easier for a larger market team to pay the fee rather than a team like the Reds. Additionally, the posting fee only opens negotiations; it doesn’t guarantee signing.

Due to MLB’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement, teams are limited to signings between $4.75 million and $5.75 million from July 2 to June 2018. That spending can be increased by up to $10 million via trades.

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