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Do the Astros even have a shot at Shohei Ohtani?

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TOKYO, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 12: Shohei Ohtani #16 of Japan celebrates after hitting a solo homer in the fifth inning during the international friendly match between Japan and Netherlands at the Tokyo Dome on November 12, 2016 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Masterpress/Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 12: Shohei Ohtani #16 of Japan celebrates after hitting a solo homer in the fifth inning during the international friendly match between Japan and Netherlands at the Tokyo Dome on November 12, 2016 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Masterpress/Getty Images) /
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Will the Astros sign Shohei Ohtani once he is posted?

Welcome to the holiday season, where you should spread your generosity to others. Give a gift or get a gift, the best part of the holidays is going home and spending time with your family. Astros fans have to be especially joyous this offseason after winning the World Series in 2017. Shohei Ohtani is seeking a new home.

While this team is good, the Astros will look into adding to this talented core this offseason. The Winter Meetings is where most of the transactions start or finish. There was some breaking news last night that makes all 30 teams excited.

According to Jeff Passan, Shohei Ohtani will be coming to the major leagues in 2018. This was after the MLB and players association finally reached an agreement to allow him to be posted, which it could happen as early as Friday. They have until December 5th to post him. The question is, who will sign him?

The next Babe Ruth?

Who is he? He is a 23-year-old Japanese phenom who can throw 102 mph and hit homers. If there were ever such thing as a two-way player, it would be Madison Bumgarner or Ohtani. Some might say Babe Ruth was a two-way player, but that was a different era. He was known mostly for his hitting and not his pitching.

Like Ruth, Ohtani shows the potential to dominate as a hitter and pitcher. Whoever signs Ohtani will likely do so as a pitcher, but he has the desire to hit as well. You would think that this would give the National League teams the advantage without the designated hitter. Instead, he wants to be a designated hitter who pitches.

Does everyone get a chance?

When he is posted, he will get to choose the team he wants to go to. According to Passan, that team would pay a $20 million posting fee. That team will be limited to signing under the international free agent policy. Passan says the Rangers have the most to offer Ohtani as a signing bonus. They can offer him a $3.535 million signing bonus. That would not be good for the Astros.

Only six teams could offer Ohtani at least $1 million, as Passan reports. Unfortunately, the Astros can only max out at $300,000 signing bonus to any international players. It sounds like Ohtani is not too worried about money but instead wants to get to the MLB quickly. According to the article, “money is not a concern to him, and he wants to go against the best players in the world.”

Tread carefully!

If he were to sign with a team this offseason, he would only be able to make the league minimum for 2018 if he makes the team. Here is the problem, you can’t lure an international player with the promise of future money. For example, the Astros can’t sign him and promise him a big deal before they sign him.

If Ohtani wants to come to Houston, he would do so because they have the best chance to win. Any team that signs him can extend his contract at any time, but they have to be smart. If there is any evidence of tampering, the Japanese team can void the deal.

Next: Potential backup catcher targets for Astros to consider

If Ohtani really were about the money, he would wait until he turned 25 so he can sign for whatever he wants. He just wants to play baseball in the big leagues, will it be the Astros? It would be nice, but I’m not counting on it.

***Stats from Jeff Passan’s article***

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