Heyman | Yankees and Red Sox well positioned for battle over Otani

Japan's designated hitter Shohei Otani watches the flight of his solo home run off Netherlands' pitcher Jair Jurrjens in the fifth inning of their international exhibition series baseball game at Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Toru Takahashi)
(AP Photo/Toru Takahashi)

Could the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees be gearing up for a battle over NPB star/international sensation Shohei Otani?

Otani, one of the best and most exciting players on the planet, is limited by the CBA to teams’ international allotments, and according to figures obtained by FanRag Sports, the Red Sox and Yankees are tied for holding the biggest allotments – at least at the moment (it may depend on who else they may be planning to sign internationally).

The extra dollars may or may not give them an edge in any Otani derby, but it’s interesting to note that both big-market teams have obtained an extra $3.25 million in extra international pool money, and both had $4.75 million to start (teams have between $4.5 million and $5.5 million to begin now), giving them each exactly $8 million to spend this winter on international players.

So it could be a level playing field financially should Otani decide to make the move.

When trades are made, the amount of international pool money isn’t typically announced, but word is the Red Sox and Yankees have gathered the most in total to this point. Of course, many teams have money already ticketed to other international stars, so it’s impossible to know whether the Yankees and Red Sox are actually at the exact same level. It’s also still not known whether Otani will come over this winter. His team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, have signaled to some that they are ready to allow him to leave (they will, of course, receive the $20 million posting fee if he decides to come).

Otani could still wait two years, then cash in huge with a truer free agent deal. But there seems to be a belief he’s willing to at least consider giving up the big bucks at a chance to play in MLB sooner – which explains why so many MLB bigwigs are headed over there to make their pitch.

It seems hard to believe he’d give up the big bucks in order to come over two years earlier, but perhaps he could make up for some of the salary sacrifice in endorsements (though it’s hard to imagine he could make up for all that lost pay).

One thing folks seem certain of: He will be a big star.

“He’s the real deal,” one scout said. “He could be an impact player as a position player. And he could be an impact player as a pitcher.”

Many teams have made the trip to Japan to visit him this year. Dodgers GM Andrew Friedman is there now. Rangers GM Jon Daniels has been there. And many others have, too. He hasn’t been at full strength all year, so it’s not a scouting mission, but a one of diplomacy. He’s done a lot of DHing this year as he’s been battling foot ailments.

Other teams to have picked up international money include the Rangers ($2 million to give them $6.75 million), Braves ($1.25 million) Dodgers and Mets ($1 million apiece).

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