Baltimore Orioles: Why the team won’t be in talks for Shohei Otani

TOKYO, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 19: Starting pitcher Shohei Otani #16 of Japan throws in the top of first inning during the WBSC Premier 12 semi final match between South Korea and Japan at the Tokyo Dome on November 19, 2015 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Masterpress/Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 19: Starting pitcher Shohei Otani #16 of Japan throws in the top of first inning during the WBSC Premier 12 semi final match between South Korea and Japan at the Tokyo Dome on November 19, 2015 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Masterpress/Getty Images) /
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The Baltimore Orioles need to fill several spots in the pitching rotation before the start of Spring Training in 2018.

Unfortunately, the pitcher that everyone is talking about will most likely not be a possibility for the Baltimore Orioles in this Hot Stove season.

Shohei Otani, who has been called the Japanese Babe Ruth, has little to no chance to be a member of the O’s in the upcoming season.

The importance of international bonus money

This young pitcher-outfielder-hitter may not even be able to play in the MLB in 2018, but the fact that the Orioles have traded away a significant portion of their international bonus money will keep him out of Baltimore.

According to an article from Jon Meoli with The Baltimore Sun, the O’s have directions from the owner:

"Because of an ownership edict not to spend the money on young international amateur players, they move it [international bonus money] out to try and still get value on it instead."

Players acquired through bonus money trades

The Orioles were involved in a handful of player transactions that included swapping international bonus money. Along with and in lieu of trading players, the Orioles traded money for players like Jeremy Hellickson, Jason Wheeler, and Damien Magnifico. Hellickson became a free agent at the end of 2017. So, did Jason Wheeler. Magnifico was later traded to the Los Angeles Angels for Jordan Kipper who is still in the O’s organization. Otherwise, that bonus money did not seem to be wisely traded as two of the three players are no longer with the organization.

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How this money works

Otani will be subjected to the MLB’s newest collective bargaining agreement, so he will only be able to join a team as a minor league player using bonus pool money. If he were moved up to an MLB team, he would make the league minimum, which is $545,000. According to MLB.com, teams get a set amount of money and they can trade it away in increments of $250,000 up to 75% of their allocated amount. Baseball America reported that the Orioles had $5.75 million as a small market team.

Investing in New Zealand instead

The Orioles are not keen on signing young international players, but the team does have a presence in New Zealand. With the team scouting the Kiwi nation, it is highly unlikely they will chase the Otani. The Orioles know that he is available and they have been following him for several years, as the Baltimore Sun reported O’s scouts were watching him back in 2012. The O’s front office knew he would be available. But, they still decided to trade away international money and open up shop in New Zealand. This screams a lack of interest in Otani.

Next: Orioles showing interest in Cardinals outfielders

It would be fitting for the Japanese Babe Ruth to get his start in Baltimore. But, the odds of it happening are quite low.