Shohei Otani is expected to be posted by the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters this off-season, and the Rangers have been adding international bonus money that could be used to sign the star two-way player. AP
Shohei Otani is expected to be posted by the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters this off-season, and the Rangers have been adding international bonus money that could be used to sign the star two-way player. AP

Texas Rangers

Who is Brallan Perez, and how can he help Rangers land Shohei Otani?

August 05, 2017 09:42 PM

UPDATED August 06, 2017 10:14 AM

MINNEAPOLIS

For those who don’t live in Cartegena, Colombia, or in the five cities in the Texas Rangers’ farm system where Brallan Perez played beginning in 2015, here’s a quick bio:

The 21-year-old infielder, signed in 2012, is a career .292 hitter, but has hit only six home runs in 906 at-bats. He was a frequent late-game fill-in during spring training games after the regulars had hit the golf course.

More importantly, he was worth $500,000 in international bonus money Saturday, and one day Perez could be a bit of trivia in Texas Rangers history.

Question: Which minor-league player was traded to the Baltimore Orioles in 2017 to help sign Shohei Otani, the two-way star commonly referred to as the Babe Ruth of Japan?

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The Rangers continued to acquire money to rebuild their international signing pool, from which Otani must be signed under the stipulations of the new collective bargaining agreement.

The trade of Perez follows a July trade of Yeyson Yrizarri to the Chicago White Sox for an undisclosed amount, though it likely was a bigger return as Yrizarri is considered the better prospect.

“The general purpose would be flexibility for our international scouting department,” assistant general manager Josh Boyd said before the Rangers defeated the Minnesota Twins 4-1 on Saturday. “That is the faith we have in that group in the scouting department, and the nature of the market, I think it behooves of us to have a lot flexibility there throughout the year. It’s not just July 2.”

Otani would fall into the international pool. Players must be 25 and have six years of professional experience to be exempt from CBA rules.

Otani is 23 and is in his fifth season with the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, facts that initially led many to believe that Otani wouldn’t come to the major leagues until 2019. However, he is expected to be posted after this season even though he won’t be able to sign a huge contract, at least not initially.

The Rangers had $4.75 million to spend during the current international signing period and used nearly all of it July 2. The CBA allows teams to acquire up to 75 percent of their original pool.

More than a dozen teams have already maxed out or are limited to $300,000 per signing after exceeding their pools under the previous CBA. Among the 11 clubs under penalty during this signing period are the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Washington Nationals and Houston Astros.

Teams are not permitted to go over their caps under the current CBA, which runs through 2021.

Boyd said that with more teams restricted, the Rangers face less competition for international free agents in Latin America who haven’t signed or, in the case of Cuban-born players, are still seeking a work visa to play in MLB.

The Rangers signed one such player, Yanio Perez, last year, but the money can go to any player in any foreign market.

“Asia, Australia, Latin America, India, who knows?” said Boyd, who has made two visits to Japan since May. “Our expectations are to continue to stockpile [talent] and build depth.”

The are multiple questions surrounding the process it will take to sign Otani, who has been limited this season by injuries. The Rangers must submit $20 million for the posting fee and then score a meeting to negotiate with Otani, who has wowed scouts with 100-mph fastball velocity and 20-homer power.

The Rangers will have at least three spots to fill for their 2018 starting rotation.

Whichever team signs him would do so on a minor-league deal, and he would fall into the pre-arbitration realm of players. The club that signs him, though, could buy out his pre-arb and arbitration years, similar to deals given by the Tampa Bay Rays to Evan Longoria and by the White Sox to Tim Anderson.

But there are no guarantees with Otani, and that could lead the Rangers to strike on a talented free agent from Latin America rather than holding onto the money they have acquired.

They might not be done.

“If there are opportunities,” Boyd said. “The 16- to 18-year-old Latin America market, the players that come in have immediate value to us. They have industry value. ... If we have to go that avenue to acquire spots to do it, some of these teams are very willing to trade those assets.”

Texas

210

000

001

4

8

1

Minnesota

000

010

000

1

4

0

Texas AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

Choo dh

5

0

0

0

0

2

.253

Andrus ss

4

1

1

0

0

1

.294

Mazara rf

4

1

1

2

0

2

.247

Beltre 3b

4

0

1

0

0

1

.292

Odor 2b

4

0

1

0

0

0

.219

Napoli 1b

3

1

1

0

1

1

.201

Gallo lf

4

0

1

0

0

1

.206

Robinson cf

2

0

1

0

1

1

.214

Gomez ph-cf

0

1

0

0

0

0

.254

Chirinos c

3

0

1

2

0

1

.212

Totals 33

4

8

4

2

10

Minnesota AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

Dozier 2b

3

0

1

0

1

1

.247

Grossman dh

4

0

0

0

0

0

.247

Escobar 3b

4

0

1

0

0

0

.265

Gimenez c

3

0

0

0

0

0

.202

Rosario lf

3

0

0

0

0

1

.285

Buxton cf

3

1

1

0

0

0

.217

Adrianza 1b

3

0

0

1

0

1

.281

Kepler rf

3

0

0

0

0

1

.246

Polanco ss

3

0

1

0

0

1

.215

Totals 29

1

4

1

1

5

E—Chirinos (4). LOB—Texas 6, Minnesota 2. 2B—Polanco (17). HR—Mazara (14), off Gibson. RBIs—Mazara 2 (68), Chirinos 2 (28), Adrianza (14). SB—Gomez (11), Buxton (18). CS—Dozier (6). SF—Chirinos.

Runners left in scoring position—Texas 2; Minnesota 1. DP—Minnesota 1.

Texas

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

NP

ERA

Hamels, W 6-1

9

4

1

0

1

5

96

3.59

Minnesota

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

NP

ERA

Gibson, L, 6-9

5 1/3

7

3

3

2

4

97

6.03

Boshers

 2/3

0

0

0

0

1

9

3.95

Pressly

2

0

0

0

0

2

21

6.03

Rogers

1

1

1

1

0

3

25

3.92

Inherited runners-scored—Boshers 2-0. HBP—Rogers (Gomez). Umpires—Home, Mark Wegner; First, Marty Foster; Second, Mike Muchlinski; Third, Ryan Blakney. T—2:41. A—27,415 (39,021).