With Shohei Ohtani expected to be posted within the next seven days, his agent is already working hard to figure out which teams might make the best fit.
According to the Associated Press, that process reportedly included a homework assignment that was sent to all 30 teams on Friday night. The assignment amounts to a request for all interested teams to send a formal proposal detailing how each plans to utilize the two-way superstar should he sign there. It’s noted the request, which was sent via memo and distributed to all 30 teams by the commissioner’s office, asks for written explanations in both English and Japanese.
The memo from Nez Balelo, co-head of CAA Baseball, was distributed to all 30 teams by the commissioner’s office late Friday along with materials for the Dec. 1 vote on a new posting agreement between Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball. If the deal is approved, the 23-year-old is expected to be put up for bid later that day or the following day.
Balelo’s memo asks for a team to evaluate Ohtani’s talent as a pitcher and as a hitter; to explain its player development, medical training and player performance philosophies and facilities; to describe its minor league and spring training facilities; to detail resources for Ohtani’s cultural assimilation into the team’s city; to demonstrate a vision for how Ohtani could integrate into the team’s organization; and to tell Ohtani why the team is a desirable place to play.
Each team was asked to provide its answers in both languages as soon as possible. Clubs were told not to include any financial terms of a possible contract.
It’s a unique request amid unique circumstances. But considering Ohtani’s unique talents, it’s understandable. The dominant pitcher/slugging outfielder wants to continue as a two-way player in MLB, and it’s obviously important for him to know that there are MLB teams willing to offer that opportunity.
Seattle Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto already expressed a willingness to oblige Ohtani. He specifically mentioned moving Nelson Cruz back and forth between designated hitter and the outfield to accommodate Ohtani. That’s a bold move that would seemingly make Seattle a contender for Ohtani’s services. But we’re guessing he’ll want more specifics on how often teams plan to use him before determining a pecking order.
Otani, 23, immediately jumped to the top of every free agent list after word a new posting system agreement came down earlier this week. He’s been an elite pitcher in Japan, posting a 2.69 ERA and 624 strikeouts over 543 career innings. Offensively, he’s a .296 career hitter with 48 home runs. Ohtani started playing professional at age 18.
Because of restrictions in MLB’s new labor contract, Ohtani will be forced to accept a minor league deal subject to the remaining amounts in each team’s 2017-18 international signing bonus pool. The Rangers can offer the most money at $3,535,000, followed by the Yankees at $3.5 million. The reality is it won’t be about the money. At least for Ohtani’s first contract. It will be about opportunity and where Ohtani feels his overall skill set will be best utilized.
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