Shohei Ohtani narrows field to seven teams: Here's how he fits with each club
We know which seven teams are left, so let's take a look
Two-way Japanese star Shohei Ohtani was posted on Friday and already we're hearing reports that. Let's run through those teams and see how he might fit.
The teams will be listed in alphabetical order.
The Cubs can only give Ohtani a $300,000 signing bonus, so the pitch here has nothing to do with money. That the Cubs are still in this mix leads me to believe the Cubs' front office did an outstanding job in initially recruiting Ohtani. Getting him for that price would be a coup for Theo Epstein and company, as they have two rotation holes to fill along with needing more relief pitching. Ohtani would give them the ability to spend a lot on a fifth starter (Alex Cobb?) and still have money left over for two good relief arms, in all likelihood. As far as positions, there's a logjam. Perhaps signing Ohtani would lead to the Cubs trading someone like Kyle Schwarber in order to help further address the pitching staff.
The Halos can spend $1.315M on Ohtani, though it doesn't seem like money is a major concern with him. The rotation is currently Garrett Richards, Parker Bridwell, JC Ramirez, Tyler Skaggs and Matt Shoemaker, so Ohtani would send one of those five to the bullpen. Also, sticking a lefty-swinging Ohtani somewhere between the righty-power trio of Mike Trout, Justin Upton and Albert Pujols seems very attractive.
The Dodgers have perhaps the best history in the game when it comes to signing and transitioning international talent. They also won the most regular-season games last, came within one win of the World Series title and are well-positioned to be one of baseball's best teams for a while. The Dodgers have tons of depth both in the rotation and in the outfield, but surely they'd make room, maybe even by trading someone (Yasiel Puig?). Adding Ohtani to the rotation gives the Dodgers the luxury of leaving Kenta Maeda in the bullpen permanently, too.
The Padres only won 71 games last year and don't seem poised for a major turn just yet, but they do have a good farm system. Also, it's San Diego, the most beautiful city in the majors. Perhaps the Padres could sell Ohtani on being easily the biggest star on the team immediately upon signing, something the at least the three teams above can't say.
The Giants have their hands full right now, as they seem to be fighting for the lives to trade for Giancarlo Stanton. At $1.835M left in their bonus pool, the Giants can spend more on Ohtani than every team beside the Rangers left in the mix. We know San Fran is a very internationally-friendly city and AT&T Park is gorgeous. The on-field fit is easy. The Giants can use upgrades all over the outfield while Ohtani would join Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija and Matt Moore in the rotation.
The Mariners have a long and very good history with Japanese players and Seattle is very internationally-friendly as well. The Mariners can offer more than $1.5M, too. We can't know Ohtani's motivations until he tells us, but if he doesn't want to be the center of attention, the Mariners already have veteran star power with Robinson Cano, Felix Hernandez and Nelson Cruz. In the case of Cruz, Ohtani and him could split time between DH and right field with Mitch Haniger sliding to left. Erasmo Ramirez or Marco Gonzales get bumped from the rotation, so there's a good fit here. Also -- again, we can't know what Ohtani wants -- the Mariners have the longest playoff drought in MLB and have never won even a pennant. Maybe Ohtani will be motivated to help make history.
At $3.535M, the Rangers can outspend everyone here. They also proved an excellent fit for Yu Darvish before dealing him at the trade deadline this past season. Ohtani is a pretty perfect fit on the field, too, as he could step right in as the everyday designated hitter and join the rotation behind Cole Hamels, along with Martin Perez and Doug Fister. I'm not sure there's a favorite among the top seven here, but the Rangers definitely feel like one of the strongest fits.
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