Japanese two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani has concluded his meetings with the seven teams that made his final list as he transitions from Nippon Professional Baseball to MLB. Those teams are the Angels, Cubs, Dodgers, Giants, Mariners, Padres and Rangers. On Wednesday night, the Angels and Mariners each made trades with the
Japanese two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani has concluded his meetings with the seven teams that made his final list as he transitions from Nippon Professional Baseball to MLB. Those teams are the Angels, Cubs, Dodgers, Giants, Mariners, Padres and Rangers.
On Wednesday night, the Angels and Mariners each made trades with the Twins to add international bonus pool money they can use to potentially sign Ohtani. The Mariners were the first to strike a deal with Minnesota, trading catcher David Banuelos, the club's No. 10 prospect per MLBPipeline.com, to the Twins for $1 million in bonus pool funds. Shortly thereafter, the Angels traded No. 5 prospect Jacob Pearson to Minnesota for $1 million in bonus pool money.
That brings the updated bonus pool cap to $2.557 million for the Mariners, and $2.315 million for the Angels. With Ohtani, 23, being under 25 years old, he is subject to limitations on amateur players outside the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico when it comes to signing with an MLB team. The team he eventually signs with will pay his Japanese club, the Nippon-Ham Fighters, a $20 million posting fee, and Ohtani will sign a Minor League contract and make the MLB minimum of $545,000 if he makes the big league roster. But he is eligible to receive an international signing bonus.
Among the finalists, the Rangers ($3.535 million), Mariners and Angels are the only teams that have more than $300,000 in international bonus pool funds to offer.
Available international slot money for Ohtani chase:
Rangers: $3.535 million
Mariners: $2.557 million
Angels: $2.315 million
As Ohtani weighs his options before making a highly anticipated decision by Dec. 22 on where to play, here's a look at what we know of each club's meeting with the right-handed pitcher/left-handed slugger:
:: Shohei Ohtani coverage ::
Team representatives met with Ohtani and his agent, Nez Balelo of CAA, on Monday in Los Angeles, a source told MLB.com. It's unclear who was in the Angels' delegation, though it's likely several members of the front office, as well as manager Mike Scioscia, were present. The Angels satisfy Ohtani's preference for playing on the West Coast, and boast young stars like Michael Trout and Andrelton Simmons. Los Angeles is also home to the largest Japanese community in the mainland United States. More >>
Though Ohtani has expressed a preference to play on the West Coast, the Cubs are a finalist and met with him on Tuesday, according to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal. As they did when pursuing free agents Jonathan Lester, Jason Heyward and Benjamin Zobrist in past years, the Cubs prepared a video presentation for Ohtani. And the content of any presentation Chicago makes to woo a free agent could draw on recent success, including three straight trips to the National League Championship Series, as well as a World Series title in 2016. More >>
Team representatives met with Ohtani on Monday, per Rosenthal. Los Angeles has several factors presumably working its favor, including a track record of success with Japanese pitchers such as Hideo Nomo and more recently, Kenta Maeda and Yu Darvish. The Dodgers even have a Japanese-born manager in Dave Roberts, and the large Japanese community in the city of Los Angeles could be another draw. The Dodgers apparently would satisfy Ohtani's desire to be a two-way player in MLB; he would likely play in the outfield when not pitching. More >>
San Francisco, which is also seen as a front-runner to land NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton via trade with the Marlins, was the first team to meet with Ohtani on Monday, a source told MLB.com. According to NBC Sports Bay Area, the Giants' delegation consisted of executive vice president Brian Sabean, general manager Bobby Evans and manager Bruce Bochy, along with All-Star catcher and former NL MVP Buster Posey. Although the Giants lost 98 games in 2017, the club is just a season removed from the postseason, and three from a third World Series title in five years. San Francisco is also reportedly willing to utilize Ohtani as a two-way player. More >>
Seattle, which has a rich history of signing Japanese players who went on to successful MLB careers, met with Ohtani on Tuesday. The Mariners have had a Japanese player on their roster every season since 1998. That includes one of Ohtani's favorite players while growing up, Ichiro Suzuki, who was a superstar for the Mariners from 2001-12 as well as the first position player to make the transition from NPB to MLB. Seattle also boasts a strong Japanese community and a ballpark conducive to pitching and a left-handed power hitter. More >>
San Diego was the last club to meet with Ohtani, per Yahoo Sports. The Padres have several connections to Ohtani already: Seiichiro Nakagaki, Ohtani's trainer with the Nippon-Ham Fighters, is San Diego's director of sports science and general manager A.J. Preller recruited Ohtani in 2012 while with the Rangers. Until last season, the Padres had a deal in place that allowed Ohtani's NPB team to train at their Spring Training complex in Peoria, Ariz. And San Diego manager Andy Green played for the Fighters in 2007. The Padres also have former Japanese stars Nomo and Takashi Saito in their front office. More >>
Texas, one of the two finalists not on the West Coast, met with Ohtani on Tuesday, sources told MLB.com. One of Ohtani's favorite players, Darvish, was signed by the Rangers in 2012 when he made the transition from NPB. Darvish played four-plus seasons for Texas before a trade to the Dodgers on July 31. The Rangers' contingent at the meeting with Ohtani included co-owner Ray Davis, general manager Jon Daniels, assistant general manager Josh Boyd, medical director Jamie Reed, strength and conditioning coach Jose Vazquez, and Japanese scouts Joe Furukawa and Hajime Watabe. More >>
Manny Randhawa is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MannyOnMLB.