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Reds 'definitely' interested in landing Ohtani

MLB.com @m_sheldon

CINCINNATI -- Japanese two-way player Shohei Ohtani is arguably the biggest offseason prize this offseason now that he has been posted. Clubs have until Dec. 22 to sign Ohtani, and the Reds feel they have a legitimate chance.

"We definitely would be interested in getting him. He is a talent," Reds general manager Dick Williams said on Wednesday. "We'll try to go through the process they have set up. We will make the case for why he would be a good fit."

CINCINNATI -- Japanese two-way player Shohei Ohtani is arguably the biggest offseason prize this offseason now that he has been posted. Clubs have until Dec. 22 to sign Ohtani, and the Reds feel they have a legitimate chance.

"We definitely would be interested in getting him. He is a talent," Reds general manager Dick Williams said on Wednesday. "We'll try to go through the process they have set up. We will make the case for why he would be a good fit."

FAQ about Ohtani, posting system

Ohtani's agent, Nez Balelo, sent a memo to all 30 clubs last week and requested information that outlines teams' interest as well as information about Minor League development, scouting, the training and medical staff, Spring Training facilities and background information about the city and market itself.

With Collective Bargaining Agreement rules regarding international players under the age of 25, the 23-year-old Ohtani will be unable to score the giant payday past Japanese stars received when they came to the Major Leagues. He would be signed to a Minor League contract and earn the Major League minimum for the first three seasons, and then be arbitration-eligible for three more seasons until he is eligible to be a free agent at the age of 29.

The club that signs Ohtani will have to pay a $20 million posting fee to his Japanese club.

Because of the agent memo, and considering that he didn't wait the additional two years, it's possible Ohtani isn't necessarily interested in receiving the highest bonus money possible.

If that is the case, the Reds would indeed have a better chance even if they are viewed as a long shot to land Ohtani.

Cincinnati already exceeded its international signing pool limits last year, which means it can only offer Ohtani a $300,000 bonus. The Rangers have the most international bonus money available at $3.535 million, followed by the Yankees at $3.5 million.

"Our approach is we want to make the case for why it would make the best sense to come to Cincinnati," Williams said. "They put out a memo with the guidelines of what they want to see addressed. We were working on a lot of recruiting material that we feel addressed what would be important to him."

Williams declined to detail what type of information the Reds have included in the recruiting material. He was one of multiple big league executives who traveled to Sapporo, Japan, in October to watch Ohtani play and show that the Reds were interested. Williams, who did not meet personally with Ohtani during the trip, also wanted to indicate to other Japanese players that Cincinnati was interested is raising its profile in the region. The Reds are the only Major League club that has never signed a Japanese player.

Besides being a right-handed pitcher with a velocity in the high 90s, Ohtani is also a left-handed power hitter. That could make American League teams like the Rangers or Yankees a top contender since he could be a designated hitter on days he doesn't pitch. As a National League team, the Reds would mostly be able to use Ohtani as a pinch-hitter and as a DH during Interleague Play at AL ballparks. But it's also possible that he could play some in the outfield.

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

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