ST. LOUIS -- Though the Cardinals never anticipated being in the running to land two-way Japanese star Shohei Ohtani, the organization officially learned on Sunday that they are not among the clubs being considered by the free agent.The Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters posted Ohtani on Friday, initiating a 21-day window during
ST. LOUIS -- Though the Cardinals never anticipated being in the running to land two-way Japanese star Shohei Ohtani, the organization officially learned on Sunday that they are not among the clubs being considered by the free agent.
The Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters posted Ohtani on Friday, initiating a 21-day window during which the 23-year-old could consider possible landing spots. Ohtani's representatives requested that each club fill out a questionnaire to detail why it would be the ideal fit for the right-handed pitcher/left-handed slugger.
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The Cardinals submitted the paperwork, but were not chosen as one of the teams Ohtani wanted to meet with in person over the coming days. Most of the teams Ohtani selected as finalists are based on the West Coast.
Ohtani is subject to international signing rules, meaning that clubs have to abide by bonus pool limitations as they submit any offers. Because the Cardinals overspent during the 2016-17 international signing period, they were not permitted to offer Ohtani more than a $300,000 signing bonus. The Rangers, who are reportedly among the clubs still in the mix for Ohtani, can make the largest offer -- $3.535 million.
Additionally, whichever team signs Ohtani will also have to pay a $20 million posting fee to the Fighters.
Baseball's Hot Stove season opened with Ohtani distinguished as the standout player available in this year's free-agent class given his age, the minimal cost to sign him and his unique profile as a two-way player. Ohtani has expressed interest in continuing to be used as a pitcher and hitter when he signs with a Major League team.
At 6-foot-5, Ohtani features three plus pitches, including a fastball clocked that has been clocked as high as 102 mph, and the power he has shown has teams intrigued by what he could offer at the plate on days when he is not pitching.
Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.