Texas Rangers GM Jon Daniels Takes Trip to Scout Two-Way Star
By Andrew Webb
The Rangers have not been shy about acquiring international talent and have their eyes on two-way star Shohei Ohtani.
It’s been a busy day for the Texas Rangers organization as general manager Jon Daniels headed to Japan to scout two-way star Shohei Ohtani.
Currently Ohtani is part of the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters of Japan. This is a trip similar to the one that Daniels took in 2011 and led to the Rangers signing star pitcher Yu Darvish. Could we see another Japanese star joining the Rangers organization?
Ohtani is currently on the disabled list, but Daniels and assistant general manager Josh Boyd and scouts Joe Furukawa and Hajime Watabe were able to watch Ohtani work out. According to T.R. Sullivan, Rangers manager Jeff Banister had this to say about Ohtani.
"“This is a premier athlete that’s a baseball player who plays in Japan for a championship team,” Banister said. “Very engaging, with a passion to play the game.”"
The mission is Daniels and his crew to lay the groundwork for potential off-season negotiations. Ohtani will likely attempt to become a free agent and head to the United States this off-season. Nothing is official yet, but the Fighters are likely to let Ohtani leave and collect the $20 million posting fee that the team must pay to sign him.
Some consider Ohtani to be the Babe Ruth of Japan, and they might be right. He has a fastball that can hit 100 mph, but also hit .322 with 22 home runs and 67 RBIs in 323 at-bats as a designated hitter last season.
Ideally if the Rangers sign Ohtani they want to use him both as a pitcher and hitter. It would be difficult for someone to pitch every fifth day, and hit in between starts. It’s just tiring from an energy standpoint, but that is what Ohtani wants to do.
Playing in the American League would give the Rangers the opportunity to have Ohtani DH on the days he doesn’t pitch. Another edge is that Yu Darvish is close friends with Ohtani. Could we being seeing the duo of Darvish and Ohtani in Arlington next season?