CINCINNATI -- The Reds and general manager Dick Williams put a lot of time and attention in efforts to recruit Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani. But it appears that they are not one of the finalists to sign the two-way player.The Reds have not commented on the multiple reports that Ohtani
CINCINNATI -- The Reds and general manager Dick Williams put a lot of time and attention in efforts to recruit Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani. But it appears that they are not one of the finalists to sign the two-way player.
The Reds have not commented on the multiple reports that Ohtani has narrowed his list of choices of to seven teams -- the Mariners, Giants, Dodgers, Padres, Angels, Rangers and Cubs.
Although Ohtani appeared to be interested in some of Major League Baseball's smaller-market clubs, his list clearly indicates a strong desire to be on the West Coast.
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On Friday, the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters officially posted Ohtani, which gives him until Dec. 22 to sign with a Major League team. Because he is under 25, Ohtani is subject to the international bonus pool signing restrictions. Once he selects a team, the club must pay the Ham Fighters a $20 million posting fee.
Cincinnati already exceeded its international signing pool limits last year, which meant it could only offer Ohtani $300,000 for a bonus. But with an understanding that Ohtani wasn't necessarily chasing the top dollar and was interested in issues like training facilities, medical staffs, Minor League organizations and the city itself, Williams hoped that the Reds could emerge from long shot to serious contender.
"We've put a lot of thought and effort into this project," Williams said on Friday.
Ohtani was coveted by virtually all 30 MLB clubs because he is the rare elite two-way player. As a right-handed pitcher, he can throw in the upper 90s, but he is also a left-handed power hitter who can be in the lineup on days he doesn't pitch.
Williams traveled to Sapporo, Japan, in October to signal Cincinnati's interest. He would not describe the types of recruiting material the club provided to Ohtani's representatives during the process.
Besides the signing bonus and geography working against the Reds, Cincinnati lacks a large Japanese population. The Reds are also the only Major League club to have never signed a Japanese player.
Cincinnati manager Bryan Price had given considerable thought to how Ohtani would fit on the roster and how he would use him both as a starting pitcher and a hitter.
"We're not going into this putting our toe in the deep end or testing the waters on this, we are making a full attempt to be a player in this negotiation, so we've had to," Price said on Saturday during Redsfest. "The one thing we don't want to do is make false promises. We won't do that. We're not going to say, 'We're going to do this,' and then pull the rug out from underneath him. We have no interest in doing that."
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.