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Otani opts for MLB over NPB

18 year old Japanese pitcher Shohei Otani has decided to sign with an MLB team, rather than pitching professionally in Japan

Chung Sung-Jun

Shohei Otani, the 18 year old Japanese pitcher whose fastball has been clocked at up to 99 mph, has decided that he will pursue a career in the United States, rather than playing professionally in Japan.

Otani was expected to go in the first round of the NPB draft next week, and has visited with a number of major league clubs, including the Texas Rangers.

A team signing Otani would have to do so subject to the 2012 cap on bonuses for international free agents, which is $2.9 million per team. The Rangers have most of their funds under the cap available, as they have spent very little on the international free agent market, saying that most of their budget was applied towards Jairo Beras, who signed this winter, and whose bonus was not subject to the 2012 cap.

The Rangers should be expected to be significant bidders for Otani's services.