On Friday,. His 21-day negotiating window ends 11:59 p.m. ET on December 22. Whichever team signs him will pay the Fighters a $20 million release fee.
In anticipation of his quasi-free agency, Ohtani traveled to the United States a few days ago, and he reportedly has several meetings scheduled with teams next week.
Sources: The Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes is kicking into overdrive. He has started scheduling meetings with teams in Los Angeles next week.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 2, 2017
Ohtani is the second high-profile Japanese player to come to MLB through the current posting system, which allows him to negotiate with any team. Under the old system, teams would bid on the player's rights, and he could only negotiate with that team, killing his leverage. That is no longer the case.
Masahiro Tanaka, the other high-profile Japanese player to come over under the current posting system, met with teams the same way as Ohtani when he was posted. He traveled to Los Angeles and had MLB teams go to him to make their in-person sales pitch. That's the most efficient way to do it. Making Ohtani travel to each team would waste a lot of time.
The Mariners, , reportedly have a meeting set up next week, and they're planning to bring along several of their big name players to help recruit Ohtani.
Sources: The Seattle Mariners have asked multiple players to clear their schedules from Tuesday through Friday next week to potentially come to Los Angeles for a meeting with Shohei Ohtani.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 2, 2017
The Mariners have a long history with Japanese players. They of course brought Ichiro Suzuki over to MLB, and they've also employed others like also Hisashi Iwakuma, Munenori Kawasaki, Kenji Johjima, Shigetoshi Hasegawa, Kazuhiro Sasaki and Mac Suzuki. Seattle has a large Japanese community and it is the closest MLB city to Japan in terms of travel time, all of which figures to appeal to Ohtani.
Of course, other teams are going to do their best to impress Ohtani as well, including bringing along some of their star players. No one really knows Ohtani's preferences right now. Does he want to play for a contender? A rebuilder with other young players? On the East Coast? The West Coast? No one knows.
We'll all find out soon enough.