More Like Nohei Notani: MLB Officials Say No Exception for Japanese Star

There’s no business like Shohei business, and it just wouldn’t be a full day of offseason rumors without another development in the saga of the fireballing Japanese slugger. This is roughly the eleventieth piece I’ve written on Shohei Otani, so I’ll do my best to keep it succinct. Whether you’ve read them all or are new to the game, here’s a brief timeline of the Sho-hype:

And now comes this series of updates from Ken Rosenthal:

Because I need to do something to alleviate my disappointment, I’m going to see about performing some semantic gymnastics here. We know that MLB restricts various announcements during the World Series, lest they take away from the focus on the Fall Classic We also know that MLB is in the midst of the Winter Meetings having just completed negotiations on a new CBA. Maybe they just don’t want to talk about stuff that’s not promoting the game as it is right now.

While one school of thought might hold that it’s simple enough to amend some of the language in the labor agreement while the ink is still drying, it’s not a great look to go rushing back to ask for exceptions the moment a super-stud prospect makes his intentions known. I mean, yeah, I think this is something they should have considered in the first place, but you can’t really stop the presses for one dude.

So when it comes to “no Otani exception,” that is an absolute fact. There isn’t one…yet. As for MLB not being inclined to modify the CBA, that could simply be a matter of timing. There’s too much happening in the front room right now to worry about framing up a back door in the agreement that can’t even be opened for another year. That’s how I’m choosing to look at it, anyway.

As for the second of Rosenthal’s tweets, I can’t imagine Otani coming over under the salary restrictions of the hard international spending cap. As you may be aware, existing signing restrictions were not amnestied by the new CBA, which means the Cubs will still have a max of $300,000 to give to individual international players next season. That might seem like a double-whammy at first, but it doesn’t matter if Otani waits out the age limit or gets an exception.

These new reports could be seen as cause for despair, or they could just be nothing more than literal statements on the situation as it stands at this very moment. Maybe it’s these rose-colored glasses I’m wearing, but I have a feeling that something is going to be worked out that will facilitate Otani’s stateside arrival without making him wait a few years or sign under the current salary restrictions.

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