STAMFORD, Conn. -- The Yankees have been eliminated from the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes. General manager Brian Cashman said on Sunday that the team was informed that it will not be among the teams invited to make an in-person presentation to the standout right-handed hurler and left-handed slugger.
Cashman said that Ohtani's representatives reached out to the Yankees late Friday evening and praised the Yankees' pitch, while also mentioning that New York might not the best fit as Ohtani could prefer to play for a team on the West Coast or in a smaller market.
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"I started getting a feel that wasn't good a few days ago," Cashman said. "I know that our presentation was excellent. The feedback from that was outstanding. I did get a sense that I can't change that we're a big market and I can't change that we're in the East. That was something that, presentation or not, might be difficult to overcome."
The news is a significant blow for the Yankees, who were widely mentioned as a favored landing spot for Ohtani and have had eyes on Ohtani since 2012.
This past August, Cashman and assistant GM Jean Afterman traveled to Japan so they could watch Ohtani play in person, expressing their interest by attending games in both Sapporo and Tokyo. The Yankees also planned on utilizing Hideki Matsui to help in recruitment.
"When players are in the marketplace like that, you do everything you possibly can," Cashman said. "We put forward everything that we were about, but if it's not a fit, it's not a fit. You move on. We're proud about what we've got going on here, the city and the fans we have. It's just not for everybody. I wish him the best of luck. He's an exciting young talent. Some fan base is going to be excited about it."
Ohtani's Nippon Professional Baseball club, the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, posted the two-way star on Friday, and he has until Dec. 22 to sign with a Major League team. As Ohtani, 23, is below the age of 25, he is subject to international signing rules.
Cashman said that the Yankees have been not-so-secretly preparing for Ohtani's availability for some time, pointing out that the team picked up $1.5 million in international-bonus pool money as part of the late July trade with the Athletics that netted right-hander Sonny Gray.
Earlier this month, the Yankees added another $250,000 in a trade with the Marlins, increasing their available bonus pool to $3.5 million. Only the Rangers ($3.535 million) are able to offer more to Ohtani, who is forgoing a much larger future payday by opting to come to the Majors now.
"I was cringing when everyone said we'd be the favorites, because it's already an odd circumstance," Cashman said. "For someone to come over, to forego all that money to come over two years before being in a completely different situation. That's already unexpected."
Ohtani is 42-15 with a 2.52 ERA, a 1.08 WHIP and 624 strikeouts in 543 innings over five seasons with the Nippon-Ham Fighters. He has a .286/.358/.500 slash line with 48 homers and 166 RBIs in 403 games and 1,035 at-bats over the same timeframe.
The Yankees' rotation for 2018 projects to include Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, Gray and Jordan Montgomery. Ohtani's decision could prompt Cashman to open negotiations with left-hander Carsten Sabathia, who is currently a free agent and has expressed his desire to return. Cashman said he spoke to Sabathia's agent, Kyle Thousand, late last week.
"CC Sabathia has been a tremendous Yankee for quite a long time, and one of the leaders in that clubhouse and on that field," Cashman said. "We will stay engaged with him and his agent, and with alternatives."