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Brewers hope for face-to-face with Ohtani

Milwaukee among large group of clubs interested in signing star Japanese two-way player
MLB.com @AdamMcCalvy

MILWAUKEE -- They don't play in the biggest market and can't offer the richest signing bonus, but the Brewers are nevertheless making a serious bid to sign the player billed as the Japanese Babe Ruth, general manager David Stearns said as the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes formally got underway.

By the time Major League owners held a conference call on Friday to unanimously ratify a new Japanese posting agreement, the Brewers had already returned a questionnaire from Ohtani's representatives seeking each team's best pitch for the 23-year-old. The Brewers responded both in print (in English and Japanese) and with a multimedia presentation, according to Stearns.

MILWAUKEE -- They don't play in the biggest market and can't offer the richest signing bonus, but the Brewers are nevertheless making a serious bid to sign the player billed as the Japanese Babe Ruth, general manager David Stearns said as the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes formally got underway.

By the time Major League owners held a conference call on Friday to unanimously ratify a new Japanese posting agreement, the Brewers had already returned a questionnaire from Ohtani's representatives seeking each team's best pitch for the 23-year-old. The Brewers responded both in print (in English and Japanese) and with a multimedia presentation, according to Stearns.

"Clearly, we're very interested," Stearns said. "I think all 30 clubs, to some extent, are very interested. We feel he would fit our team very well, both as a pitcher and as a position player. We submitted our presentation and we think it represented our organization well.

"As an organization, we have a lot to offer."

Stearns already mentioned one thing the Brewers can offer: the opportunity for Ohtani, a right-handed pitcher with a fastball that touches triple digits and a left-handed hitter who can play the outfield, to do both in the big leagues. Miller Park is a good place for left-handed hitters with power, as 2017 newcomers Eric Thames and Travis Shaw discovered, and the Brewers' chief target this winter is starting pitching.

The Brewers' presentation sold the merits of Miller Park and the team's young, ascending core of players. It was submitted to Ohtani's agent, Nez Balelo, who also represents Ryan Braun and Jimmy Nelson and who negotiated with the Brewers when they won the bidding for Japanese outfielder Norichika Aoki during the 2011-12 offseason. Aoki played two productive seasons for the Brewers.

Because he is leaving Japan before turning 25, Ohtani is subject to international signing rules that limit each team's spending. The Rangers and Yankees have the biggest pools available, at more than $3.5 million, and are considered among the favorites to sign him. The Brewers can offer a maximum of $765,000.

Given his international star power, Ohtani is expected to make up some of the difference with endorsement deals. Those may be easier to come by in large markets.

Ohtani is reportedly in Los Angeles to meet with teams in the coming days. Stearns is hoping to get one of those meetings.

"We're certainly hopeful that we're going to be in a position to make our case face-to-face and in person," Stearns said. "To some extent, that's out of our hands at this point. … He's a very unique talent and it's a very unique story for Major League Baseball in general. We're hoping to be a part of it."

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Milwaukee Brewers