Shohei Ohtani’s rapidly narrowing market dominated headlines overnight. In fact, it looks like there are only seven teams left that will have the right to negotiate a contract with the two-way player, including the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs haven’t officially stated their interest, but have scouted Ohtani extensively and are expected to make a pitch even though they don’t have a ton of international bonus pool money to offer.
The Dodgers and Angels are believed to also be on a short list of clubs who drew Ohtani’s interest. He appears to prefer West Coast and/or small market destinations and his reps with CAA will conduct meetings at their Los Angeles office. In addition to both L.A. teams, negotiations will reportedly include the Padres, Mariners, Giants, Rangers, and of course the Cubs.
The Yankees and the Red Sox were almost immediately rejected even though the Yankees were the industry-wide favorites to land Ohtani heading into this weekend. I personally believe it will come down to the Dodgers, Mariners, and Cubs, though I suppose at this moment all seven teams have a truly equal chance.
What makes the remaining teams so appealing to the young NPB all-star?
7. Padres – It’s San Diego.
6. Angels – Mike Trout, period. If Ohtani wants to play with a generational talent in baseball, he could sign with the Angels. It’s not a stretch, however, to believe that negotiations with both Los Angeles teams are only formalities since CAA is conducting interviews locally. The Angels can offer a signing bonus of up to $1.3 million.
5. Cubs – Joe Maddon has previously used pitcher Travis Wood as a left fielder and pinch-hitting option, so he may be better suited than any National League manager to utilize Ohtani as a two-way talent. The Cubs also have a terrific medical track record with their pitchers, a championship-level position-player core, excellent training facilities, and Theo Epstein, who is well-versed in the process of pursuing Japanese stars. The team president has produced creative recruiting pitches for players in the past, which is a good thing because the Cubs can only offer a $300,000 signing bonus.
4. Giants – Despite being a 64-win team in 2017, they’re not that far removed from recent championships, and San Francisco boasts a Japanese-speaking bench coach in Hensley Meulens This is one of the three teams Ohtani discussed signing with in 2012. The Giants have $1.835M in bonus money but are under the same $300,000 restriction as the Cubs.
3. Mariners – GM Jerry Dipoto has made it no secret that he’s full-pressing Ohtani and the Mariners have plenty of worthy spokesmen: Ichiro and Hisashi Iwakuma can speak to the way Seattle has served as a rewarding landing spot for Japanese ballplayers. Seattle has $1.56M in IFA bonus pool money available.
2. Dodgers – The Dodgers nearly signed Ohtani out of high school, so there’s something of a history. There’s also the quality of the current roster, the state of the farm system, and the team’s long-term financial resources. Like the Cubs, the Dodgers are well-positioned to get back to the World Series multiple times in the coming years. And with a similarly progressive front office that is creative in its approach to roster maximization, Ohtani’s two-way talents could be served well here. The outfield is still quite crowded however. Los Angeles can only offer $300,000 in IFA bonus money.
1. Rangers – They have the most bonus pool money available at $3.53M dollars, have worked well with Asian players in the past, and can offer regular at-bats as a designated hitter.
Giancarlo Stanton has his own sweepstakes of sorts and it appears that only two teams are in the running to potentially trade for the NL MVP outfielder. The Marlins have agreed to the general framework on a possible trade with both the Cardinals and the Giants. Stanton would prefer to play for the Dodgers but the salary cap is an issue.
St. Louis has better prospects and the willingness to eat more of the big slugger’s contract than San Francisco. Though a trade is expected to be formalized in 2-3 days, Stanton has full no-trade rights, so it’s possible he may not accept any trade that does not involve the Dodgers.
If the Cardinals whiff in their attempt to land Stanton, they may turn their attention to Rays third baseman Evan Longoria.
After being rejected by Ohtani, the Yankees can focus on re-signing C.C. Sabathia.
Dan Connolly of Baltimore Baseball has a great analysis of what the Orioles’ offseason might look like, and examines the possibility that Baltimore could tear their entire team apart like the Cubs and Astros have previously done..
The Royals may pursue a similar path in an effort to rebuild cheaply.
Deal or No Deal: A look at seven intriguing storylines as the hype surrounding next week’s Winter Meetings ramps up.
The Padres signed general manager A.J. Preller to a three-year contract extension through the 2022 season, the team announced Sunday.
Monday Walk Up Song
Thunder by Imagine Dragons. For Shohei.