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Never Fear, the Cuban Shohei Ohtani is Here; Oscar Colas Seeks MLB Contract

Oscar Colas, the biggest and most hyped international prospect is hitting the free agent market in 2020. The 21-year-old, two-way Cuban superstar is seeking an MLB contract as soon as possible. The Twins cannot miss a rare second chance at the second-coming of Shohei Ohtani.
Image courtesy of © Jordan Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
In 2017, an unknown Japanese player made his journey across the Pacific in search of the elusive MLB contract. Many hailed him as the “Modern Day Babe Ruth”. Upon his arrival, Shohei Ohtani was immediately pulled into a heated bidding war among numerous teams, including the Minnesota Twins for a fleeting moment.

In his rookie year, Ohtani was the first player since Ruth to hit 15 home runs and pitch 50 innings in the same season. Ohtani was simultaneously the most reliable pitcher for the Angels while filling the role of the second-best hitter in the lineup on days he didn't pitch. During his rookie season, Ohtani held a 3.31 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP in 10 appearances for the Angels. Although Tommy John surgery kept him off the mound in 2019, Ohtani repeated his offensive dominance of his first season, hitting a .286/.343/.848 and a 2.5 WAR. His two-year career WAR has already exceeded the likes of many seasoned players including former Twins C.J. Cron, Martin Perez, and Sam Dyson.

A rare second chance for a team to garner a player with the same two-way dominance has emerged in the form of Oscar Colas, a 21-year-old prospect who has recently elected to defect from his home country of Cuba. Each team that missed out on the first coming of Ohtani will be even more eager to sign Colas, who according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, intends to play in the United States as soon as possible.



Colas has been playing in Japan for the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks since 2017. During his tenure there, Colas has proven to be a reliable hitter, outfielder, AND infielder. In 2019, the lefty slashed.300/.353/.511 with 12 homers in 73 games at both first base and right field. Although there is room for improvement, Colas has respectable defensive metrics. At first base and right field, Colas holds a fielding percentage of 98.2% and 94.1%, respectively with only three errors committed in two seasons.



On top of this, Colas has a 95 mph fastball in his arsenal. At 6’1" and 210 pounds, the 21-year-old already has the build and flexibility of Marwin Gonzalez, the power of Miguel Sano, and the speed of Max Kepler. Much like Eddie Rosario, Colas also hit a home run in his first at-bat with the Hawks.



It was rumored last winter that Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton, and Jose Berrios all declined extension offers made by the Twins. While Alex Kiriloff and Trevor Larnach are expected to fill outfield duties sometime this next decade, Colas would allow the flexibility for the Twins to utilize both top prospects and/or Rosario and Buxton for potential trade targets with other teams or as a utility asset, like Gonzalez. If Colas continues to elevate his pitching, he could become a powerful arm in the rotation as a gear to La Makina or as his replacement. Even if Colas can’t continue as a full two-way player, he could be a suitable replacement as a DH after Nelson Cruz’s retirement or impending free agency. Essentially, the possibilities of Colas with the Twins are endless. The reasons to add Colas far outweigh any potential downsides that he could bring.

The furious pursuit of Ohtani indicates that there won’t be a single team in the MLB who won’t be interested in Colas. Thankfully, Colas will likely not be signed until July when each team’s international pool money resets. Until then, the Twins should start thinking about inviting Colas to stop in Minneapolis on his grand tour of the United States.

Should Colas choose to sign with the Twins, it's safe to say that Number 144 (a nice, mathematical square) will still be unclaimed.

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29 Comments

I know I’m probably dreaming, but this is set up absolutely perfectly:

1). A left handed starting pitcher and another power bat from the left side are exactly what this team needs.

2). There doesn’t appear to be any large market players ahead of the Twins in terms of international FA budget (not sure where you’d place the Cardinals, they have more).

3). The Twins are flush with cash. That should be a good negotiation tool. There should be almost nothing holding them back from a long secure deal, whereas a team like the Yankees, Nationals, Angels, Dodgers may be less inclined to add another significant deal.

Due to the nature of the process, this is a true “pick where you want to go” scenario for him. But, we have to be on the short list of semi-legitimate contenders willing to push some chips in.

I won’t get my hopes up. But, this seems like a perfect opportunity.
    • TopGunn#22 and mikelink45 like this

So what kind of bonus is this kid talking about?Is it going to be on the lines of Ohtani or more like Moncada or Robert (both of whom playing for our rival Sox)?Not sure.Can anyone explain again why Ohtani had to sign with a bonus of "only" $2.3 million, but Moncada signs with a bonus of $31.5 million?Robert signed a bonus of $26 million.

 

What sets them apart again?I can't remember.

due to last collected bargaining agreement each team has a set amount of $ they can spend on international free agent under 23 yr old.Which means if he waits until after July 1st to sign the Twins literally have zero chance of signing him.The $ is equal so the big name play will sign in a city that can offer the most advertisement and locational incentives. 

 

Like ohtani he will not even consider the twins because they cannot offer anything he cant get someplace else in a better location.He will either be a Yankee, red sox or Marlin.

If he's the real deal he'll land somehere else. If he's a flash in the pan and won't amount to a hill of beans the Twins will get him, ala Nishioki or Byung-Ho.

I want to assure all here that the Twins are "all in" on Colas and that JP has not and never has put any restrictions on the amount of money the FO can spend to improve the team. They are actively engaged with his agents and have been assured that they are in the running for his services, and that Colas loves the Twin  City area, and cold weather. To save the time of a further post, I would also like to say that the Twins were very excited to have been in consideration tight until the very end. They made a competitive and serious bid for Colas, and while very disappointed that he is not coming here, they wish him the best in NY, LA, or Boston.

    • John Bonnes, scottz, nicksaviking and 7 others like this
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Doctor Gast
Jan 10 2020 06:56 AM

Cubans have done well here (Tony Oliva). It`d be very interesting to seehow he develop into a pitcher. If he does work out as a pitcher he could be valuable working some innings in National league games plus keeping him loose w/ some relief pitching. He could also play some 1B when he isn`t pitching 

Not just Tony Oliva, Camilo Pascual and Pedro Ramos led the pitching staff in 1961. At least we have another player to watch, obsess over, and dream about for a while.

    • Platoon likes this

Use Tony-O as a recruiter.It certainly can't hurt.I think Colas would be impressed to see how revered Tony Oliva is in the Twin Cities and throughout the state.He could see that kind of future here for himself.  

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Aerodeliria
Jan 10 2020 08:45 AM
I don't mean to throw a wet blanket on all of this, but the 'chatter' gives the impression that Colas is tearing up Japanese baseball. I've never seen him play and I watch Japanese games whenever I can. Colas is still primarily a minor leaguer here. He did come up to big leagues in 2018 and in 158 PAs, he slashed .212, .259, .432...Last season he had only 21 appearances and slashed.278, .381, .444, certainly better but it's hard to take much stock in 21 PAs. I'm not saying he's not a prospect but he's still light years away from being mentioned in the same breath as Ohtani.
    • gunnarthor, James, nicksaviking and 9 others like this

Here's the mlbtraderumors write up on him - https://www.mlbtrade...k-mlb-deal.html

 

Seems to be less agreement that he can be a two way player than Ohtani. Also, we've seen a number of high profile Cuban contracts utterly blow up on the teams that signed them. Rusney Castillo was given 72m by the Red Sox in 2014. Yasmany Tomas was given 68m+ by the Dbacks in 2014 as well. Hector Olivera got 62m in 2015 from the Dodgers.

 

https://en.wikipedia...ected_from_Cuba

 

That's not to say I don't want us to sign him, I want our scouts to do their due diligence and, if they think he'll help, sign him. The Twins get a little more than most teams (but not all teams) in their international pool although what they don't spend they can't carryover. This year they had nearly 6m to spend and looks like they've spend about 3.5 (Emmanuel Rodriguez being the big fish this year). It doesn't seem like an international draft will happen by July 2020 so the Twins are likely to have a big chunk of cash available again. 

    • birdwatcher, MN_ExPat and Aerodeliria like this

¿Dónde guarda sus caballos?

    • 70charger likes this
People realize the 1960s are fifty years in the past, right?

This team has claimed to be in on Cubans all the time, and not signed any in decades.
    • scottz and Platoon like this

Also worth noting, despite being tabbed as a potential "two-way" player, Colás has never pitched professionally. And he's already 21 years old. Hard to imagine a development path where he's anything more than a reliever on the mound.

 

And as noted above, his batting stats were primarily from the Japanese minor leagues. (Although I guess the more time he takes to develop as a hitter in the US minor leagues, the more time he could develop as a pitcher too.)

 

By comparison, Ohtani was batting *and* pitching in the Japanese *major* leagues by age 18, and turning in star performances at age 19.

    • USAFChief, birdwatcher, James and 1 other like this

 

So what kind of bonus is this kid talking about?Is it going to be on the lines of Ohtani or more like Moncada or Robert (both of whom playing for our rival Sox)?Not sure.Can anyone explain again why Ohtani had to sign with a bonus of "only" $2.3 million, but Moncada signs with a bonus of $31.5 million?Robert signed a bonus of $26 million.

 

What sets them apart again?I can't remember.

The international signing rules changed with the start of the 2017 signing period.

 

Before then, teams could exceed their allotted bonus pools and incur penalties. That's how Moncada and Robert and others signed big contracts.

 

But starting in July 2017, the bonus pool became a hard cap, and teams were no longer allowed to exceed it. That's why Ohtani had to take a much smaller bonus when he signed in Dec. 2017.

    • jrod23, MN_ExPat and jkcarew like this

 

Not just Tony Oliva, Camilo Pascual and Pedro Ramos led the pitching staff in 1961. At least we have another player to watch, obsess over, and dream about for a while.

The pattern of the organization signing Cuban stars is clearly established.

 

We just need to hope Oscar asks his great-grandfather where he should sign. :)

    • USAFChief, nicksaviking, mikelink45 and 1 other like this

 

due to last collected bargaining agreement each team has a set amount of $ they can spend on international free agent under 23 yr old.Which means if he waits until after July 1st to sign the Twins literally have zero chance of signing him.

The "foreign professional" cutoff is actual 25 years old now -- a few years ago, they upped it from age 23 plus 5 pro seasons, mostly to suppress Ohtani's eventual contract.

 

Shouldn't much matter for Colás, who's only 21, turning 22 in Sep. 2020. And I don't think the Twins have much left in their 2019-2020 bonus pool, do they? This article suggests they may only have about $600k left, although I haven't been following it too closely:

 

https://www.mlb.com/...ngs-july-2-2019

    • MN_ExPat likes this

This is not likely going to be a popular take around these parts, but I hope he goes to Miami. Having a superstar Cuban player in Miami would be so great for MLB and would almost certainly bring more pride and joy to that community than any other MLB community in the country.

If he is good and wants more than 20 dollars not a chance he signs with the Twins

 

People realize the 1960s are fifty years in the past, right?

This team has claimed to be in on Cubans all the time, and not signed any in decades.

 

They signed Yennier Cano this past summer. 

    • ewen21 and DannySD like this

 

If he is good and wants more than 20 dollars not a chance he signs with the Twins

 

Love the enthusiasm but that is not how international spending works. 

    • MN_ExPat likes this
“ In 2017, an unknown Japanese player made his journey across the Pacific in search of the elusive MLB contract”
I don’t think it is accurate to describe Ohtani as an unknown. Much like Ricky Rubio in basketball, he had been discussed and fantasized over since his mid teens. Oscar Colas is, at least to me, a complete unknown. It seems unusual to have one of the best prospects to emerge from Cuba playing in Japan. Normally Cuba is very protective of their best players, especially in their younger years. I appreciate Aerodeliria's insight regarding the Japanese minor leagues; something I was not aware of. All things considered it seems as if Colas is more of a candidate for the Twins top 20 Prospect list than a spot on the major league team; either as a pitcher or an everyday player.
That doesn’t mean he is not someone to pursue since we are apparently “flush with cash”; just keep things in perspective and expectations within reason.
    • USAFChief, Mike Sixel, diehardtwinsfan and 3 others like this
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specialiststeve
Jan 11 2020 11:49 AM

Would be a nice sign but am sure he will not sign until the international money is renewed. Right now most teams have used most of their resources in this area... unless he takes a pretty big discount he will wait until the summer. 

 

Adding talent ALWAYS makes sense .. especially talent that is close to the show as can use on the field or as a trade piece. 

I think the Twins may just have the most talented Ohtani-like player in the MLB already, but he came up a few years early to be considered as an outfielder/pitcher.

“ As a pitcher during his senior year, he had a 10–1 win–loss record with a 1.90 earned run average and 154 strikeouts in 81 innings pitched. Buxton also threw a fastball that was recorded at 99 miles per hour (159 km/h).”

I want to see him pitch in a meaningless game at some point. I’m guessing he can still throw 95+ consistently.

......In 2017, an unknown Japanese player made his journey across the Pacific in search of the elusive MLB contract......

 

Ohtani unknown? Even I knew about Ohtani!

 

I had never heard of Oscar Colas, though. Thanks for the article.

    • Platoon likes this

 

They signed Yennier Cano this past summer. 

THE Yennier Cano?

    • Platoon likes this