Shohei Ohtani is still only arbitration-eligible, meaning he’s still being significantly underpaid compared to his production — even with his terrible 2020 season and his 2018 pitching injury thrown in, but the two-year contract announced Monday, $3 million this year and $5.5 million for 2022, likely represent new highs for him.
The 2016 MVP of Japan’s Pacific League, earned a reported 270 million yen ($2.4 million) as a 22-year-old in 2017 with the Nippon Ham Fighters. As a 23-year-old, MLB and its union worked to declare him an amateur in its latest CBA, meaning a limited signing bonus and a guaranteed minor league contract.
The Nikkan Sports did a nifty little table of his earnings through 2020, with the understanding that Japanese figures are just what the player and team want you to hear and don’t always reflect reality. This means it is possible that Ohtani earned far more in 2017 than the figure that was officially leaked and that his 2020 salary is not yet the highest of his career.
PL Best 9 (P)
PL Best 9 (P, DH), PL MVP
Dollar figures prior to 2018, and yen figures after are based on IRS annual exchange rates for that year. Rates for 2021 are for Feb. 8, 2021.
On Saturday, two days after he threw his first bullpen session of spring training, 18-year-old Roki Sasaki was again the center of attention. This time, Sasaki, who touched 100 mph in his senior year of high school, drew a crowd of Chunichi Dragons before their game with his Lotte Marines according to the Nikkan Sports.
Indeed, Sasaki’s delivery is so effortless looking, that he is a fairly unique athlete. Sasaki said he was much happier with Saturday’s 48-pitch effort, saying, “I threw some pitches I was very happy with, although I was still wild.”
And the crowd?
“I noticed them, but they weren’t in my field of vision when I was throwing so no problem,” he said.
Disappointment from Bour
In what will probably be the first of many such stories this season, the Daily Sports reported on the results of new Hanshin Tigers Jerry Sands and Justin Bour, in their headline: “Sands gets 2 free passes, Bour grounds into bases-loaded double play.”
The game was the team’s first outside practice game, a 7-1 loss to the Hiroshima Carp.
New Buffalo Jones confesses to wanting to hit. 300
Sports Hochi reported Saturday that new Orix Buffaloes import Adam Jones, who has declined the Japanese custom of announcing numeric goals for the season, revealed to Orix executives that he wanted to hit .300. Stop the presses.
BayStars import Austin to start preseason opener
Journeyman first baseman and corner outfielder Tyler Austin will start in right field for the DeNA BayStars in Sunday’s preseason opener against the Yomiuri Giants in Naha, Okinawa Prefecture, DeNA skipper Alex Ramirez said, according to Hochi Shimbun.
Tyler will bat second and play right, while two-time CL home run champion Neftali Soto, who split his time last season between second and right, will be at first base. Regular first baseman Jose Lopez, will be the DH. Ramirez said he would continue to use big hitters in the No. 2 hole this season.
Last year, he caught flak for “insulting Japan” by having the national team cleanup hitter, new Tampa Bay Ray Yoshitomo Tsutsugo bat second.
Villanueva vows to adjust with new club
Christian Villanueva was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts in his intrasquad debut with the Nippon Ham Fighters, whom he joined after an unsuccessful NPB 2019 debut campaign with the Central League’s Yomiuri Giants.
He said he was grateful to the Fighters for accepting him and that he would adjust so that he could be able to be as effective as possible, the Hochi Shimbun reported.
Mota making strong appeal for Giants call-up
Israel Mota, a 24-year-outfielder who spent five years in the Washington Nationals farm system, continued to swing a hot bat in camp, the Hochi Shimbun reported Saturday. Mota, who joined Yomiuri on a developmental contract last year, singled and doubled in three practice game at-bats against KBO’s Samsung Lions.
In the same game, new Giant Gerardo Parra was greeted by Giants fans showing off their “Baby Shark” chops when he appeared as a pinch-hitter at Okinawa Cellular Stadium. He struck out.