Competition to Sign Shohei Ohtani Dropping Like Flies

marc w · December 3, 2017 at 5:18 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

The clock is running. Teams have made their pitch to Shohei Ohtani’s agent why their organization’s the ideal place for the 23-year old star to develop. Ohtani will soon select a few finalists and have in-person interviews, essentially, that sound like they’ll determine which MLB team gets the ridiculous bargain of Ohtani’s services. Today, we’ve started to learn which teams will NOT make that second round, and the news thus far couldn’t get much better for M’s fans.

The big story is that Ohtani’s not interested in the Yankees. Not only were the Yankees pushing hard for Ohtani, but they’d made a series of trades throughout last season that gave them more international bonus pool space than just about anyone. Ohtani’s timing makes it clear that he’s not deciding based on the biggest payday, but it’s still somewhat shocking that *the Yankees* who, even in the bizarre world of international bonus pools still had a financial advantage, have been shown the door. I’ll take it, of course. The only possible consolation for the Yankees may be the fact that the Red Sox were eliminated as well.

In announcing that his efforts had come to nought, Yanks GM Brian Cashman said that his club had two big strikes against it in Ohtani’s eyes: the Yankees are on the East Coast and they’re a very large market. That’s…that’s encouraging, as the MLB markets on the West Coast tend to be pretty big. The Bay Area is gigantic, even if the population of the cities within it aren’t huge, and in any event, the smallest of those – the A’s – are out too.

Ohtani pretty clearly hasn’t limited the competition to JUST West Coast cities, but plenty of teams have announced that they’re out, and reporters are pointing to both San Francisco and Seattle as finalists. Thus far, the following teams are definitively *out*:
Red Sox

Ohtani nearly signed with the Dodgers out of high school, and the Dodgers are still in the hunt, but they can offer just $300,000 in bonus money and play in one of the league’s largest markets. San Francisco and San Diego are strong contenders, but both are coming off abysmal seasons. That said, the former jump right back into contention if they sign Ohtani and Giancarlo Stanton; the Giants have an offer on the table for Stanton now, as the Marlins RF decides whether to bless a move to SF or St. Louis or instead to hold out and try to force a trade to Los Angeles. The M’s can offer a realistic shot at the playoffs in the near term, a small-ish market, non-stop flights to Japan, and have much more to offer in bonus money than either LA or SF. Hell, Ohtani even did some off-season training in Peoria at the spring training home of the M’s (and Padres, who signed an agreement with Ohtani’s NPB team, the Nippon Ham Fighters).

The news today couldn’t have gone much better, though it’s worth remembering that the remaining competition is pretty stiff. San Francisco can point to the development of Madison Bumgarner as a reason to sign, and there’s the matter of three recent World Series titles. Texas is going all-out for Ohtani, as the org has extensive ties to Japanese baseball and landed Yu Darvish several years ago. The Rangers lead the pack in bonus pool funds, too. The Angels seemed like they wouldn’t be able to compete for Ohtani, but their recent trade with Atlanta (who *literally* can’t compete) brought back over $1 M in bonus pool funds, and thus they’re back in the hunt. The Cubs could conceivably compete on their history with pitchers, player development and winning, though they’re not on the West Coast.

While there are a lot of strong teams remaining, today’s news has improved the M’s odds of landing Ohtani significantly. Eliminating the Yanks/Red Sox – both of whom have development advantages over the M’s – as well as darkhorses like the Twins is a big step, and the idea that Ohtani wants to play in a smaller market would give the M’s an edge essentially no other team, with the possible exception of San Diego, could compete with. The M’s cleared the first hurdle and saw some of the favorites fall. They need to be on their game in the in-person interviews, and as Jerry Dipoto said on the last Wheelhouse Podcast, they’re ready for it.


4 Responses to “Competition to Sign Shohei Ohtani Dropping Like Flies”

  1. Sowulo on December 3rd, 2017 6:12 pm

    Dear Santa,
    All I want for Christmas is……

  2. Longgeorge1 on December 3rd, 2017 10:28 pm

    It would seem that with the advantage of having the DH AL teams would be in a better position to “guarantee” more AB’s

  3. LongDistance on December 4th, 2017 2:59 am

    Just imagine: a young, potentially superstar, Cy Young caliber, pitcher in Seattle, which we could play with and build around for years on end. Just imagine what we could do with that. Just imagine what we could have … done … with … oh.

  4. mksh21 on December 4th, 2017 8:47 am

    I think at this point I want to sign him just to see how bad we f it up.

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