Ohtani’s Reduces Field To Seven
For once, a high value free agent was available at a moderate cost. Shohei Ohtani, 23, the two way Japanese superstar often referred to as the Babe Ruth of Japan, can only be signed to a minor league deal with a team’s international signing pool money.
Of course, a $20MM posting fee has to be paid to the Nippon Ham Fighters, his Japanese club. With such a high upside on a player and a minimal cost, teams from coast to coast made their bids to lure Ohtani to their cities.
On Sunday night the field was reduced considerably, starting with the announcement that both the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox were off the list. Bryan Hoch of MLB.com reported that no matter how good of a presentation that Yankees made, they couldn’t make themselves a West Coast or a smaller market.
Cashman said that Ohtani’s reps told him they were very impressed with team’s presentation, but no matter how good it was, the Yankees couldn’t make themselves West Coast or a smaller market.
— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) December 3, 2017
As the evening wore on, one by one, teams were eliminated from Pittsburgh to Minnesota, to Oakland and spots in between. In the end, seven teams appear to be on the final cut to land Ohtani.
Accorging to Ken Rosenthal, the seven teams that will be meeting with Ohtani and his representative are the Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels, San Diego Padres, Seattle Mariners, San Francisco Giants, Texas Rangers, and Chicago Cubs.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 4, 2017
Clubs will continue making their pitch to Ohtani and his agents in a second round. As for the money aspect, the Rangers bonus-pool is the most lucrative ($3.54MM). The Mariners ($1.56MM) and the Angels ($1.3MM) follow the Angels.
The remaining teams have considerably less money available. In the grand scheme of things, all Ohtani had to do was wait a few more years in Japan and he could have landed a $200MM deal. The lure of the advertising dollars that could have come his way in New York wasn’t enough to sway him to head their. Money, it appears, is the last item on Ohtani’s checklist.
The Top Four:
The top four teams of the remaining seven would have to be the Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers, and Chicago Cubs.
Seattle, with the heavy Asian influence in the community, would seem to be the front-runner. Former Japanese stars Ichiro Suzuki and Hisashi Iwakuma both called Seattle home and found great success. The geography, the city, and the team seems to be on the precipice (if they remain healthy) of challenging the Houston Astros in the AL West.
The San Francisco Giants would seem to be a prime destination. They have had recent success, including three World Series Championships since 2010. They also have a history of developing pitchers like Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, and Madison Bumgarner. Having a full ballpark every night has to be a positive for any player.
The Texas Rangers maintained a positive relationship with Yu Darvish. They have the support framework in place to make the transition easier. Unfortunately, they aren’t on the West Coast, but are still in the running.
The Chicago Cubs, certainly not a West Coast team, have a Joe Maddon. Over his lifetime as a manager he’s been more willing to take advantage of a player’s versatility. They also have Theo Epstein. Epstein once lured Daisuke Matsuzaka over from Japan to play in Boston. Through Matsuzaka, Epstein also is familiar with how to set up a transition for a player.
All things considered, I would put my money on the Seattle Mariners landing Ohtani.