Which MLB team will Shohei Ohtani sign with?
The race for Shohei Ohtani has begun in earnest. On Sunday night, Ohtani and his representatives informed seven fortunate clubs that they are the finalists for his much sought-after services. Those seven teams will soon meet with Ohtani in person to make their pitches.
The finalists are—in no particular order—the Giants, Mariners, Rangers, Cubs, Angels, Dodgers and Padres. It would be foolish to attempt to suss out Ohtani’s motivations for picking that group, though it’s clear money is no object—the Dodgers, for example, can only offer him a $300,000 signing bonus—and he appears to favor the West Coast. Yankees GM Brian Cashman’s speculation that Ohtani would prefer a small market is undermined by the fact that Los Angeles, Chicago and Dallas made the cut.
We really have no idea where Ohtani will sign, so follow all the latest news below.
• The Angels and Mariners pulled off trades late Wednesday night to acquire extra international bonus pool money for Ohtani. (Associated Press)
• Ohtani makes at least twice as much in endorsements in Japan every year as he will from his MLB signing bonus. (San Diego Union-Tribune)
• Some teams think Ohtani already knows where he’s going to sign and is just leading everyone else on a wild goose chase. (The Athletic)
• The Rangers want to experiment with a six-man rotation next season and signing Ohtani would be key to being able to pull it off. (Dallas Morning News)
• Take this with a grain of salt because it comes from a guy who once got duped by a fake Twitter account, but Jim Bowden—citing a “Japanese source”—says the Mariners and Padres are the early favorites to land Ohtani. Bowden also reports, though, that all seven teams are still in the running. (Sirius XM Radio)
• Giants GM Bobby Evans says Ohtani spoke of Buster Posey’s “great aura” during their meeting on Monday. (San Francisco Chronicle)
• The Padres met with Ohtani on Tuesday, so all of the meetings are out of the way. (Yahoo)
• Ohtani did something last year in Japan only five MLB pitchers did—hit a ball 100 mph and throw a pitch 100 mph. (MLB.com)
• Ken Davidoff has a few details about just how reclusive Ohtani is and why he might favor a less pressurized environment. (New York Post)
• The Mariners aren’t believed to have sent their star players to meet with Ohtani. (Seattle Times)
• The Angels’ meeting with Ohtani was actually on Monday, so the Padres will be the last team to make their pitch. (Los Angeles Daily News)
• How would the Cubs tinker with their defensive alignment if they land Ohtani? (Chicago Tribune)
• The Dodgers met with Ohtani in Los Angeles on Monday. (The Athletic)
• The Rangers sent eight people to meet with Ohtani on Tuesday—co-owner Ray Davis, GM Jon Daniels, manager Jeff Bannister, the senior director of medical operations, the strength and conditioning coach, an assistant GM and two Japanese scouts. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
• This is what Ohtani is looking for in a team. (Kyodo News)
• The Giants were the first team to meet with Ohtani in Los Angeles, sending VP of baseball ops Brian Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy, among others. Buster Posey joined the group by phone. (NBC Sports Bay Area)
• The Padres, Giants and Rangers “have people in the [organization] that Ohtani does not want to disrespect,” one unnamed executive says. (San Diego Union-Tribune)
• This is a good detailed look at the Rangers’ case for signing Ohtani, from facilities to American Airlines’ offerings to Tokyo. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
• Ohtani has already been to the Padres’ and Mariners’ spring training complex in Arizona, working out there before each of the two last seasons. (San Diego Union-Tribune)