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?).
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"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.
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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.