Dear Shohei: A Recruitment Letter from the Toronto Blue Jays

Over the weekend, Shohei Otani’s agent sent a memo to all 30 MLB teams requesting they write an explanatory letter detailing why their club is a fit for the Japanese superstar. It should include the following specifics: 

  1. “An evaluation of Shohei’s talent as a pitcher and/or a hitter;
  2. “Player development, medical, training and player performance philosophies and capabilities;
  3. “Major League, Minor League, and Spring Training facilities;
  4. “Resources for Shohei’s cultural assimilation;
  5. “A detailed plan for integrating Shohei into the organization;
  6. “Why the city and franchise are a desirable place to play;
  7. “Relevant marketplace characteristics.”

If we were writing the letter from the Blue Jays’ organization, this is what it would look like: 

Dear Shohei,

We have been watching you play for the Nippon Ham Fighters for the past two years, sending a rotating group of 8-10 scouts and executives over to Japan to view your 26 starts during that time period. Over the course of our time watching you, we have fallen in love with your seemingly endless talent. Our scouts have said they have never seen anything like you on the diamond and that if you were a free agent on the open market, we’d feel comfortable giving you a contract matching the likes of Giancarlo Stanton – You’re worth it.

Since overhauling our front office after the 2015 season, we have made a concerted effort to change how our organization handles player development and the off-field ways we can improve player performance. We have a dedicated staff that includes sports psychologists, nutritionists, and High Performance personnel, focused on squeezing every drop of talent out of our players and helping them take full advantage of their capabilities. Our medical staff is collecting new data every day to study how our players breakdown and recover and we believe that full integration and streamlining of our services will allow us to service our player’s health much better going forward, ensuring everybody stays on the field playing at the top of their game for as long as possible.

In the 2016 amateur draft, one of our current top prospects told other teams not to draft him, for he would not sign with them, as he, Bo Bichette, was only interested in playing for the Blue Jays. When asked why, he said it was because the Blue Jays would allow him to be himself – without forcing him to change his quirky swing – and our player development philosophy was the best he could see in the league.

Our facilities in Toronto are as good as they get across baseball. Our clubhouse is spacious, our training facilities have recently been upgraded or are in the process of being renovated to feature everything our high performance department requests, and our artificial turf playing surface at the Rogers Centre will allow you to play your home games on the same surface you are used to playing on at the Sapporo Domo in Hokkaido.

Our minor league facilities are also top-notch, though because you will be coming straight to Toronto to play with the big league club, they are not as much as a concern. What will matter to you is our facilities in Dunedin, Florida, our Spring Training home since our inception. We have just entered an agreement with the City of Dunedin to renovate both of our properties in the city, which will be ready for the Spring of 2019. We are planning to make our Dunedin complex a year-round base for our club, and thus we will be designing and renovating the buildings to fit with all the newest technological advances in baseball conditioning and training as our high performance department requests. We feel you are a franchise talent and will be with us for many years to come, and thus if you would like anything particular in our new Spring Training home, you are invited to request we add it to our renovation plans.

When it comes to your cultural assimilation, there is no organization better positioned to help you than the Blue Jays. Toronto is a diverse, cultural mosaic, composed of many different groups that come together to help each other live the best lives possible. The Japanese community in Toronto is rich and flourishing, with more than 20,000 Japanese-Canadians living in Toronto as of 2010. One of our fanbases’ most beloved icons is Munenori Kawasaki, who had a child in Toronto during his time with the club and will forever be in our Canadian hearts. If you haven’t yet spoken to him about his time in Toronto, we strongly suggest you reach out to him – He will only have words of praise for our city and franchise.

As for how you’d fit on the roster, at the current moment we could use help at the front of the rotation and in the corner outfield spots and believe you are the perfect talent to help us get back to the playoffs like we did in 2015 and 2016. If you sign here, we will give you the Opening Day start as our ace, and will work with you to develop a healthy plan that allows you to play as a batter, both in the field and as a designated hitter, on days which you are not starting on the mound. We believe you have the talent to become the first successful two-way player in America in a very long time and we are committed to seeing your dream become a reality.

The city is also a cultural beacon, with night life that is unrivaled in North America, featuring great restaurants, bars, museums, theaters, sporting events, and parks. You will feel right at home with us, and will never lack for an activity in one of the world’s most vibrant cities. However, the greatest thing about playing for the Blue Jays is that you are not just playing for a city, but as all of our alumni can attest to, you are playing for an entire country. All of Canada will have your back when you get on the mound and you step into the batter’s box. In 2016 and 2017 we led the American League in attendance and all of baseball in TV viewership, averaging over 900,000 and 700,000 viewers per game respectively, and your arrival will only further fan interest in the team. Toronto loves baseball when the product is enjoyable and you will be the most important figure in the city for six to seven months a year if you join our organization.

As a foreigner coming to a new country, we cannot promise there will not be challenges. There always are when it comes to moving across the world to start a new job with new faces and new people, but we will provide help for you in every way imaginable to make your transition as smooth as possible. We want the best for you and feel that Toronto, and Canada, is the place where you will be able to have the brightest baseball career in the future and the happiest life when you’re not playing baseball. You will have every available option you could possibly want, and we will work tirelessly to make sure you are happy.

Lastly, Donald Trump is President of the United States of America, but we are based in Canada.


The Toronto Blue Jays Baseball Club

Lead photo via Prayitno and licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Related Articles

1 comment on “Dear Shohei: A Recruitment Letter from the Toronto Blue Jays”


I’d suggest that you buried the lede.

Leave a comment

Use your Baseball Prospectus username