San Francisco Giants Offseason Preview: Shohei Otani
By David Jaulus
The San Francisco Giants held their annual end of season press conference on Tuesday at AT&T Park. This season marked the end of an era.
The Giants no longer have a core four — either in the bullpen or the starting rotation. Matt Cain’s retirement spells the end of the Giants recent run of success
The roster is old and lacks athleticism and power. The time for the Giants to change is this offseason! So the question becomes, how do the San Francisco Giants go about fixing their situation?
A significant part of the solution can be found in 23 year-old Japanese phenom Shohei Otani.
Transcendent Superstar and San Francisco Giant?
He could be the most revolutionary player we have seen in Major League Baseball since Babe Ruth.
Otani pitches and hits in Japan, and apparently does both with equal fluidity.
The key from the San Francisco Giants perspective is that he is only 23 years old.
We have seen many pitchers who can hit, including Dontrelle Willis, CC Sabathia and Rick Ankiel. However, no one has come along with the true two-way skill set that Otani appears to posses.
If the Giants were to acquire Otan’si services, he could represent the key to a new core four along with Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford, and Brandon Belt.
Otani’s versatility makes him a weapon different from anything I have seen in my years as a baseball fan.
A Brief Scouting Report
I am not a professional scout, but what I see in watching Otani’s 2016 highlights on YouTube is a left-handed hitter with a slight uppercut swing and true power to all fields.
I also see a player who can hit home runs, but is also capable of getting short and making two-strike adjustments.
As a pitcher from the right side, I see a motion that — while requiring maximum effort on every pitch — leads to significant tilt and downward action on breaking pitches along with multiple types of movement on the fastball.
His maximum effort style of pitching may mean Otani is better suited to a relief role long-term if he remains a pitcher.
Regardless of role, Otani is the exact type of dynamic player the Giants need to revitalize the franchise and fans.
You can watch his 2016 highlights here:
The Posting System in Brief
The question of course is whether or not Otani will come over from Japan to the major leagues, and how much money he will request from whichever team pays the posting fee necessary in order to secure exclusive negotiating rights.
The posting fee is a sum of money paid to Otani’s team in Japan, so that he can come to the United States.
However, if Otani’s primary goal is winning, the Giants have as good a chance to acquire him as any other club, particularly given their recent history of success.
Otani would bring a spark back to the Giants that frankly they have lacked for the past 1.5 seasons, even though they were a playoff team in 2016.
In short, the Giants need to show strong interest in Otani and hopefully he reciprocates.
The Giants Way
Bobby Evans made quite clear that the team’s focus will remain on pitching and defense, which earned the Giants three world championships in five seasons. Courtesy of San Francisco Chronicle Giants beat writer Henry Schulman, Evans stated:
"“We don’t want to get too far away from our game,” “We’re a pitching-and-defense team. If we compromise too much in the area of power and give up too much defensively, that can hurt us as much as the benefit of adding the power.”"
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Evans’ stance echoes the philosophy of past championship seasons. Consistency provides direction, and the Giants do not need to change the formula that made them so successful. They just need to change the ingredients within that formula.
The Giants are also badly in need of a youth movement — particularly in the outfield. Any fan who watches the game closely can realize that Hunter Pence and Denard Span in particular are not the defensive players they once wore.
Could Shohei Otani be part of the solution to the Giants power and outfield defense conundrums? I do not know, and really no one does until he plays in the majors.
I would surely relish the opportunity to find out with Otani in a Giants uniform as opposed to a rival, such as the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Next: SF Giants: Regardless of need for speed, need for power just as great
If I were Bobby Evans, one of my first priorities would be to make a serious run at Otani if he is indeed posted this winter. We will see what the offseason brings — I personally cannot wait!