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Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Report: Amateur prospect Carter Stewart opts for Japan over MLB draft

One of the top amateur baseball prospects is making a unique career decision, forgoing his chance to be selected in this June’s Major League Baseball draft to play overseas. 

Right-handed pitcher Carter Stewart, who was the No. 8 overall pick by the Atlanta Braves in the 2018 draft, agreed to sign with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks of the Japanese Pacific League, according to The Athletic. Terms of the deal are unknown, but it is likely to be more than he was asking from the Braves.

After failing to reach an agreement with the Braves in 2018 over concerns about a wrist injury, Stewart enrolled at Eastern Florida State Junior College, which made him eligible for this year’s draft.

Instead, his decision to play in Japan will make his path to MLB a bit more difficult.

Any comments on the broader significance of this move?

 

QLE Posted: May 22, 2019 at 08:00 AM | 25 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: carter stewart, draft, japanese baseball, prospects

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. winnipegwhip Posted: May 22, 2019 at 09:12 AM (#5844537)
Can anyone agree this kid is this generation's Matt Harrington?
   2. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 22, 2019 at 09:33 AM (#5844541)
Harrington never got paid. If this doesn't work out for Stewart, he'll still get $7M, more than the $2M or so he would have gotten had he signed with the Braves last year. Seems like an interesting gamble, so long as he doesn't mind the cultural difference.
   3. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: May 22, 2019 at 09:37 AM (#5844544)
It was reported that Harrington received an insurance payout from a policy they took with Lloyd's of London when he didn't sign the first time.

EDIT: He also sued his first agent (not Boras) and reportedly settled that.

DOUBLE EDIT: Not that this refutes your statement; just adding context.
   4. Greg Pope Posted: May 22, 2019 at 09:48 AM (#5844550)
Does this bind him to the Japan agreement? If he becomes a star in Japan is he subject to the posting process?
   5. The Yankee Clapper Posted: May 22, 2019 at 10:12 AM (#5844560)
If he becomes a star in Japan is he subject to the posting process?

Yes. TFA is pretty skimpy, more details here:
The contract includes escalators that could take it beyond the $7 million-plus guaranteed. Had he opted to stay in the United States, Stewart likely would have received a bonus of less than $2 million and made even less over the next six years, barring a rapid ascent to the major leagues.

The secondary benefit for Stewart could be even more lucrative: International free agents 25 or older can sign with any major league team without restrictions, so long as their Japanese team enters them into the posting system. Were Stewart to play in Japan for the next six years, sources told ESPN, he would be considered, under the present rules, an international free agent eligible for posting.

The Japanese limit of 4 foreign players per team will probably limit such signings, but I doubt Stewart will be the last one.
   6. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: May 22, 2019 at 10:20 AM (#5844565)
The Japanese limit of 4 foreign players per team will probably limit such signings, but I doubt Stewart will be the last one.

Yeah, that path seems pretty enticing for anybody with MLB dreams who doesn't mind the cultural change. He can make more money now and has an easier/quicker path to MLB free agency.
   7. Greg Pope Posted: May 22, 2019 at 10:39 AM (#5844574)
Yeah, that path seems pretty enticing for anybody with MLB dreams who doesn't mind the cultural change. He can make more money now and has an easier/quicker path to MLB free agency.

If he's at least AAA ready, right? Or does Japan have a minor league system? Although with the hard line of 25 years, high schoolers wouldn't really gain that much. For a 4 year college grad, though, who is starting at age 22, it seems like a good idea. You're probably ready for the skill level required in Japan and then you're only 3 years away from free agency.
   8. PreservedFish Posted: May 22, 2019 at 10:40 AM (#5844575)
I think it's a good call. He's a pitcher, he's always one pitch away from wrecking his career, and $7M is better than $2M.
   9. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 22, 2019 at 10:54 AM (#5844581)
Japan has a minor league, but I believe it is just one league. So yea, there could be some development issues - also do Japanese teams still overwork their pitchers? I think I would feel better about this for a hitter than a pitcher.
   10. . . . . . . Posted: May 22, 2019 at 10:55 AM (#5844582)
This seems like a no-brainer to me for a pitching prospect. More money upfront and you still have access to free agency. I guess you lose the opportunity to negotiate an early extension with an MLB team but the MLB teams are offering so little for those extensions that for a pitcher it's clearly better to take what's on the table now.

I'm surprised he's going to Fukuoka though, I'd've thought Tokyo better for an expat.
   11. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: May 22, 2019 at 10:56 AM (#5844584)
I think it's a good call. He's a pitcher, he's always one pitch away from wrecking his career, and $7M is better than $2M.

Agree. That's a particularly important jump, lifestyle wise. $2M, after taxes, agent fees, and a few minor extravagances, is not really "set for life" for a 22 y.o.

You'll never be broke, but you're looking at assets generating an income of $50,000 p.a., with a decent amount of risk. Unless he has very simple tastes, he'll have to work. $7M though, and you can probably count on $200,000 p.a. income.

Edit: put another way, if I won $2M in the lottery, I wouldn't quit my job. $7M and I'm gone. And I'm significantly older than Stewart.
   12. vortex of dissipation Posted: May 22, 2019 at 11:22 AM (#5844597)
I'm surprised he's going to Fukuoka though, I'd've thought Tokyo better for an expat.


Fukuoka has won the Japan Series four times in the last five years. They're the dominant team in Japan right now.

   13. PreservedFish Posted: May 22, 2019 at 11:26 AM (#5844601)
So yea, there could be some development issues


I don't think anyone knows what is better for development. Look at the NBA, where European players are insanely prominent despite coming from cultures that are not exactly basketball crazy - many assert that one reason for their success is that from an early age they are playing in professional leagues against grizzled veterans, as opposed to here in the US, where the best players are just murdering the teenaged dorks that they happened to grow up near.
   14. PreservedFish Posted: May 22, 2019 at 11:33 AM (#5844604)
When I applied to the JET teaching program out of college, I listed Fukuoka as my top choice, as I had heard that everyone else lists Tokyo. It didn't help my application, apparently. But I recall reading that it has nice weather and is a great mid-size city, close to lots of natural beauty.
   15. Mike Webber Posted: May 22, 2019 at 12:01 PM (#5844624)
I don't think anyone knows what is better for development. Look at the NBA, where European players are insanely prominent despite coming from cultures that are not exactly basketball crazy - many assert that one reason for their success is that from an early age they are playing in professional leagues against grizzled veterans, as opposed to here in the US, where the best players are just murdering the teenaged dorks that they happened to grow up near.


I remember reading a good argument that the mixed ages/levels of players in the Negro Leagues was a great incubator for the young players like Mays, Aaron, Banks that came into the majors just after integration. I would guess maybe you could make a similar argument for the PCL in the 1930's. You put a talented kid in that environment where he can have success against some of the lesser lights while also seeing guys at the top level of the game he can figure out what it takes to succeed without totally getting beaten down like he would in the majors.
   16. calming him down with his 57i66135 Posted: May 22, 2019 at 12:36 PM (#5844636)
Japan has a minor league, but I believe it is just one league. So yea, there could be some development issues - also do Japanese teams still overwork their pitchers? I think I would feel better about this for a hitter than a pitcher.

i could be wrong, but i think the 4 foreigner limit only applies to the active roster, meaning that each organization can stash as many foreigners in the minors as they can afford.

the scenario that comes to my mind is a college freshman or sophomore dropping out at age 20, signing with an NPL team, but also negotiating an opt-out clause at age 24 or 25, which would force his team to post him before that point, allowing his NPL team to recoup their initial investment, and giving the player significant leverage while negotiating his first contract with an MLB team. it may cost him a year or two of experience at the front end of his career (HA. yeah right), but kris bryant didn't debut until he was 23, and he won't reach free agency until he's 30.

doing this, bryant would have been posted at 23 or 24, skipping all the minor league bullshit, all the service time bullshit. and because of the leverage he'd have (going back to NPB for another year), he could have negotiated a forced release clause with an MLB team (a la tad iguchi) to ensure he'd hit free agency again at 26 or 27.
   17. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: May 22, 2019 at 12:47 PM (#5844640)
My dad lived in Fukuoka in the mid-'70s with a JET predecessor program. He loved it. He wasn't from a big city here and wouldn't have liked Tokyo as much.
   18. calming him down with his 57i66135 Posted: May 22, 2019 at 12:57 PM (#5844645)
I don't think anyone knows what is better for development. Look at the NBA, where European players are insanely prominent despite coming from cultures that are not exactly basketball crazy - many assert that one reason for their success is that from an early age they are playing in professional leagues against grizzled veterans, as opposed to here in the US, where the best players are just murdering the teenaged dorks that they happened to grow up near.

that's just not true at all.

much of europe (specifically: former yugoslavian republics serbia and croatia; lithuania; and parts around the mediterranean (greece, italy, turkey, spain)) are definitely basketball crazy.

   19. base ball chick Posted: May 22, 2019 at 04:49 PM (#5844739)
good for carter

smart decision too

i hope that other top notch prospects start doing the same because otherwise they are going to be extorted and cheated like eloy jiminez and acuna. if i was a very top prospect i sure nuff would see the writing on the wall
   20. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: May 22, 2019 at 05:18 PM (#5844744)

This seems like a no-brainer to me for a pitching prospect. More money upfront and you still have access to free agency. I guess you lose the opportunity to negotiate an early extension with an MLB team but the MLB teams are offering so little for those extensions that for a pitcher it's clearly better to take what's on the table now.

Not just MLB teams in general, but the Braves in particular seem to be signing very team-friendly extensions (thinking about Acuna and Albies here). I wonder whether this is a sign that such tactics may be coming back to bite the Braves a little bit.

   21. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: May 22, 2019 at 05:28 PM (#5844746)

Anyway, this also brings to mind Brandon Jennings in the NBA, who went to play in Italy for a year rather than attend a year of college before entering the draft. He ended up getting $1.65 million from the Italian team and another $2 million endorsement deal from UnderArmour. After being selected #10 in the NBA draft the following year he had a 9-year career in which he made $40 million. Hard to say whether he made the right or wrong decision -- maybe he would have benefited from a year of college instead of playing less than 20 minutes per game in Italy, but in the end he probably just wasn't good enough to excel in the NBA. Getting paid an extra $3.65 million for that year was probably a decent trade-off.
   22. Walt Davis Posted: May 22, 2019 at 06:49 PM (#5844767)
Seems like a good move by the kid (assuming he can adjust to the culture ... and maybe even if he can't). He might be FA as young as 25 while, realistically, the earliest he'd be FA via MLB is 28. And he's pretty much guaranteed to make more money through 25. Finanacially it seems a no-brainer.

As to Acuna and Albies, that's where Japan's limit on foreign players comes into play. Apparently NPB teams don't really try to compete for Latin players. The Braves had a lot of leverage over those guys and used it ... and several million goes a long way down there. I don't know how easy/hard it is for a NPB team to sign a kid at 16 and develop him over 2-3 years even without a limit on foreign players.

It's intereting that none of the US major pro leagues limit the number of foreign players. Obviously one reason for that is that the 4 big sports were pretty uniquely (North) American at the start and, by the time hockey and basketball internationalized, the NHL and NBA were well-established as the elite league. Of course in the case of the NPB, the relationship is partly symbiotic. If the NPB started competing with MLB for players, MLB would drop the agreement at the earliest opportunity and bring over the best Japanese players whenever they wanted.

Anyway, from a financial standpoint, any 2nd round or later HS pick should take a few million from Japan over MLB or college ball.
   23. manchestermets Posted: May 23, 2019 at 06:35 AM (#5844836)
if I won $2M in the lottery, I wouldn't quit my job. $7M and I'm gone.


This will depend on how much you like your job obviously, but If I won $2 million I'd quit my job and look to do something that was more about how I want to spend the day than about just the money - the 2 million would allow me to buy a house outright so I'd need less money to live on.
   24. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: May 23, 2019 at 09:13 AM (#5844852)
This will depend on how much you like your job obviously, but If I won $2 million I'd quit my job and look to do something that was more about how I want to spend the day than about just the money

At the end of the day, anything I do for 40 hours a week, for money, is going to be a job. There's really no "exciting" field out there I'd vastly prefer.
   25. PreservedFish Posted: May 23, 2019 at 10:09 AM (#5844877)
But maybe you could do it 3 days a week instead of 5.

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