Pursuing Ohtani a 'top priority' for Twins

November 26th, 2017

The Twins are fully invested in the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes, senior vice president and general manager Thad Levine said on MLB Network Radio on Sunday.

In response to Ohtani's memo to all 30 Major League clubs, which requested written explanations on why each would be a good fit for his services, Levine said the Twins' front office is working closely with CAA, which represents Ohtani, on preparing a pitch for the two-way Japanese superstar.

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"We, like every other club out there, is diligently putting together materials as to why we think our situation can be conducive to a player like Ohtani," Levine said. "And working through CAA, his agency, who's kind of given us all a blueprint of things to file with them, we are working diligently on that. That is a top priority for our club at this point."

Ohtani's memo was distributed on Friday through the Commissioner's Office as the latest development to his free-agent process, one that hurdled through posting negotiations between the Nippon Professional Baseball Organization and the MLB Players Association. All 30 MLB clubs will hold a formal vote on Friday to decide on the new posting system.

The Twins make a compelling case as a promising club with blossoming talent that catapulted from the worst record in the Majors in 2016 to the second American League Wild Card spot in '17. Ohtani is reportedly putting a premium on winning, though how he is utilized in MLB could also play a significant factor in where he decides to play. Ohtani possesses elite velocity on the mound and prominent power at the plate, which may make an American League club more favorable, with the chance to start every five days and be the designated hitter in between.

"He is looking for a competitive environment in which he thinks he can thrive and develop at the Major League level," Levine said, "and clearly by bypassing the payday that he would've received by staying in Japan for two more years, he wants to start competing against Major League hitters right now. So that's very exciting for a club like Minnesota, because we feel as if we've got an opportunity here to recruit him."

MLB clubs will only be able to sign Ohtani to a Minor League contract using money from their international signing bonus pool. In this regard, the Twins can offer him roughly $3.1 million, which is the third-highest rate behind the Yankees and Rangers, who can offer roughly $3.5 million each.

"He's been a little bit more to himself," Levine said. "I think fewer people really know him extremely well, so I think the understanding we have is that he hasn't really narrowed this down to specific markets."