Shohei Ohtani shocked many of us on Sunday when he eliminated a handful of teams, including the Yankees who were once the favorite to sign the Japanese two-way player.
The Yankees not being among the teams that he is considering comes as a surprise to most, but not everyone. While many thought Ohtani would only pick a contender, Dylan Hernandez noted back in September that Ohtani’s advisers didn’t believe he’d go to the Yankees, or Dodgers for that matter, solely because of their status as a powerhouse.
Rival organizations view the Dodgers and New York Yankees as the most likely destinations for Ohtani because they are perennial playoff contenders that have extensive histories with Japanese players. But Sasaki didn’t sound convinced, noting that Ohtani chose to play for his local high school instead of a national powerhouse.
According to Ken Rosenthal, Ohtani has narrowed the field of potential suitors to seven.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 4, 2017
Most of these teams come as no surprise, however the Yankees not being on the list is a bit of a shock. New York seemed keen on finding a way to utilize Ohtani as both a pitcher and hitter, but that wasn’t enough to draw the 23-year old to the East Coast. Ohtani narrowed his selection to the West Coast, with the exception of the Cubs and Rangers.
Jon Morosi also mentioned that the Padres and Mariners are viewed as Ohtani’s possible favorites, due in part to his familiarity with Peoria, Arizona where they hold spring training.
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) December 4, 2017
Shohei Ohtani is familiar and comfortable with Peoria, Ariz., after the Nippon-Ham Fighters trained there in recent springs. The two @MLB teams who train at that complex — @Padres and @Mariners — made final group of 7, per @Jim_BowdenSXM.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 4, 2017
While this may not be a deciding factor, it’s certainly worth mentioning. Many players tend to spend extra time at their teams spring training facility throughout the offseason to get extra work in, so it could become his offseason home. This is just speculation at this point, but if Ohtani wants to use it as a factor it wouldn’t be a surprise.
Another factor that will be considered is his role, specifically how much he’ll get to hit. Three of the seven teams are in the American League, which would give him the opportunity to be a DH if he hits well enough. However, if his bat doesn’t translate well enough to take another hitter off the field, he could lose his opportunity to hit altogether on an AL club. The National League has the advantage of the pitcher already hitting, and he could also be used as a pinch-hitter on his off days. If his bat translates well enough, he could also see sporadic starts in the outfield.
Which team do you think will land the two-way star? Let us know in the comments!
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