Tom Verducci: The Cubs, the John Calipari of MLB. These guys can recruit. The NL apparently is less of a problem for Ohtani getting at-bats than we thought; his list has four NL teams among the seven finalists. Joe Maddon is a guy who has played Travis Wood in leftfield, used a four-man outfield, a five-man infield, batted the pitcher eighth and done just about more out-of-the-box maneuvering than anybody. I can see Ohtani regularly pinch-hitting and getting double-switched into games when he’s not the starting pitcher, and batting in the middle of the order when he is.
Jay Jaffe: The Mariners. An AL team makes more sense, as he can DH as well as pitch. The city—which is the smallest market one among the AL finalists (the Angels and Ranger being the others)—has a large Japanese presence that could make the cultural transition easier. The team has a positive history with Japanese players that goes beyond Ichiro Suzuki, with Shigetoshi Hasegawa, Hisashi Iwakuma and Kazuhiro Sasaki all making All-Star teams during their time in Seattle. And thanks to Thursday’s Dee Gordon trade, in which they also added $1 million in international slot money, the Mariners now have the most slot money ($3.557 million) to offer Ohtani.
Stephanie Apstein: I think Seattle makes the most sense. It’s convenient to home and has a history of embracing Japanese players without the pressure of a recent star. Although knowing transaction-happy GM Jerry Dipoto, he might get Ohtani, then trade him, then get him back, just for fun.
Jack Dickey: In the way he winnowed his list, Ohtani has surprised all of us already. The Yankees missed the cut and the Padres made it? In the rational universe, he’ll likely be a Mariner or Dodger. But in the universe we inhabit, I trust he’ll be arm-in-arm with the Swinging Friar in San Diego in no time.
Jon Tayler: Having dug through the finalists after last Sunday’s elimination round, it’s clear that Ohtani is likely headed to the West Coast and prefers a smaller market team than the bright lights and acerbic media of places like New York or Boston. I say he signs with Seattle, already well versed in accommodating Japanese superstars and a quieter place to ply his two-way trade than Los Angeles or San Francisco. And the Mariners could desperately use a pitcher of Ohtani’s quality—or three, really.
Gabriel Baumgaertner: Ohtani is said to prefer a West Coast team in a smaller market, but once he's offered a starting spot and big money by the Chicago Cubs, he'll forget about his initial preferences and sign with a team that can win the World Series next year.
Connor Grossman: Ohtani’s unorthodox preference of a smaller, West Coast market has already made waves through the hot stove season. Out with the Yankees and Red Sox, in with the … Padres and Mariners? I think these will be the two final teams the Japanese superstar will decide between, with Seattle becoming his eventual landing spot.
It makes too much sense for a pitcher-hitter to end up in the American League, where he has the ability to DH on the days he isn’t starting. That should better maximize his skillset rather than trying to hone his pitching, hitting and outfield skills all at once in a spring training crash course.