It appears the sweepstakes to sign the Japanese superstar will come down to teams on the West Coast.
The pursuit of Shohei Ohtani has a few less suitors, including the perceived favorite being eliminated from consideration.
On Sunday evening, multiple reports from the East Coast emerged that the Japanese hitting and pitching phenom would not consider signing with the New York Yankees. General manager Brian Cashman confirmed to reporters that they were out of the bidding.
Besides the Yankees, multiple other teams were informed that they were no longer in the running for Ohtani, including the Red Sox, Mets, Blue Jays, Pirates, Cardinals, Rays, Nationals, Diamondbacks, A’s, Braves and White Sox. Both the Yankees ($3.5 million) and Pirates ($2.55 million) were among the top teams in terms of international bonus money to offer Ohtani. The Mariners have $1.55 million. The Rangers have the most to offer at $3.53 million. Since he’s only age 23, Ohtani is subject to signing a minor league contract and can only be offered a bonus from a team’s international pool.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect was Cashman telling reporters that being a large-market team on the East Coast hurt the Yankees and that Ohtani seems to be favoring smaller market, West Coast teams.
Hmm … a team like the Mariners?
Seattle general manager Jerry Dipoto has made it very clear that signing Ohtani was their top priority of the offseason, saying the organization would bring it’s “A-game” to the process, including a multi-faceted presentation complete with a movie touting the city and the team.
Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan reported that the Mariners and Giants are considered finalists. The Mariners would not confirm Passan’s report or if they are headed to Los Angeles next week to meet with Ohtani. Every indication is that they want be respectful the process and Ohtani’s wishes. But baseball sources confirmed Passan’s report that the Mariners are a finalist in the process. The Padres and Dodgers also remain in contention per reports. The Angels are also in on the process.
The negotiating window runs till Dec. 22.
While much is being reported on the situation with Ohtani, sources conclude that understanding what Ohtani is ultimately looking for in a team isn’t a given. It’s considered speculation at best. And that really only Ohtani and his agent Nez Balelo truly know what he’s looking for in a team and playing scenario.
On the first episode of the Mariners’ new organizational podcast, “The Wheelhouse,” general manager Jerry Dipoto made it clear Seattle would pursue Ohtani aggressively.
Passan reported Saturday that Ohtani had begun to schedule meetings with teams for this week. The negotiating window runs through Dec. 22.