Shohei Ohtani has met with all seven of the finalists to sign him, but to this point he hasn’t narrowed the list. This was reported in a tweet from Jim Bowden of SiriusXM.
Shohei Ohtani has not narrowed his list of seven teams as of this morning according to sources close to the process
— Jim Bowden (@JimBowdenGM) December 7, 2017
Ohtani only has until December 22nd to sign, so this likely won’t remain the case for long. Although Ohtani cares more about his role and the team’s ability to help him acclimate, money could become a factor. If money were to be a decider, the Mariners and Angels are making a push by acquiring more international bonus slot money.
Seattle and Anaheim both added $1 million to their international pool to help their pursuit.
So, with Shohei Ohtani possibly days from choosing his @MLB team, both #Mariners and #Angels have added $1 million in international signing allocations. Ohtani knows how to build suspense. @MLBNetwork
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 7, 2017
This gives both teams a big advantage, as only the Rangers have more money to spend on the two-way player. Four of the remaining teams, including the Dodgers, have just $300,000 remaining for international free agents this season. Greg Johns of MLB.com provided a full breakdown of the available slot money for the remaining teams.
Available international slot money for Ohtani chase:
— Greg Johns (@GregJohnsMLB) December 7, 2017
The Mariners have been a likely option from the start, and adding the slot money certainly helps their case. The Mariners have a good history of helping Japanese players acclimate to their new surroundings, Ichiro Suzuki being the best example. They also hold spring training in Peoria, Arizona, which Ohtani is familiar with from training there with his former team, the Nippon-Ham Fighters.
Many, including Jon Heyman, view the Padres as the favorite to sign him. The Padres share a spring training facility in Peoria with the Mariners, so this is also a factor. While the Mariners may have more money, the Padres may be a better fit for the young player. With the Padres only having $300,000 available, that gives other teams hope.
While all seven of the teams are likely confident that their pitch will convince Ohtani to sign with them, the Rangers expressed their confidence. T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com shared this.
Top Rangers officials officially met with pitcher Shohei Ohtani and his representatives on Tuesday in Los Angeles. They are also expressing quiet confidence inside the industry that they have a “good chance” of signing the Japanese pitching/hitting superstar.
With all seven teams still believed to be in contention it’s still tough to speculate on where he’ll end up. Where do you think he’ll be playing? Let us know in the comments!
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