Pitcher Carter Stewart, who was drafted by the Atlanta Braves with the 8th overall pick of the 2018 MLB Draft, signed with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in Japan. 

The 19-year-old Scott Boras client will walk away with close to $6 million in guaranteed money whether or not he ever pitches in the MLB.  The deal is reportedly heavy with performance bonuses that could end up tripling the amount of money he earns from it.

If Stewart avoids injury and remains a top prospect during his six years in Japan, he can return to the MLB as an unrestricted free agent at the age of 25.  That’s at least two years earlier than would be if he signed as a draftee with an MLB team.

Boras explained the move to USA Today Sports:

“Carter has a unique set of circumstances that placed him in position where MLB placed a detriment upon him,’’ his agent Scott Boras told USA TODAY Sports. “There are only a few draft picks in this decade that are worth this consideration and treatment. But the blithe he suffered in the draft really created a scenario where the Japanese alternative is almost a necessity.

“He had no opportunity to get true value in the American system.’’

If the move works out for Stewart, you could see others try to cash in on their abilities sooner than the MLB allows and explore other options.  Then maybe Major League Baseball will have to address some of these concerns.

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