Because he is already on the West Coast -- Ohtani has been meeting with teams in Los Angeles -- it's possible he could start visiting cities next. Or maybe he'll make his decision based on the in-person presentations only. Either way, Ohtani has until 11:59pm ET on December 22 to sign.
Given how quickly Ohtani eliminated East Coast teams and met face-to-face with the other seven teams, some people involved in the process think his decision has already been made, long before he was actually posted, writes Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. Rosenthal's article is subscriber-only, though the most important part is above the paywall:
Calling Shohei Ohtani's rapid-fire schedule eyewash would be premature since no one knows what the Japanese star actually is thinking. But predictably, some people in baseball are suspicious of the recruitment process, fearing Ohtani, 23, already had made up his mind. Some always were going to be suspicious, no matter what ground rules Ohtani and his representatives at CAA established, no matter what the outcome.
Teams are upset they are unable to dictate the terms of a player's employment. News at 11. Nevermind that teams routinely engage many other clubs in trade talks to create leverage, even though they have no interest in trading with some of those teams given the available returns.
On one hand, these gripes are understandable. Going through all that work to recruit Ohtani only to watch him sign elsewhere is a tough pill to swallow. Remember, Ohtani asked the 30 clubs to write what was essentially a recruiting letter, and now seven clubs traveled to Los Angeles to meet with him face-to-face..
This is the thing though: Ohtani has every right to go about this process however he wants. He's the one making a major life change here, moving halfway around the world and stepping into an entirely new culture. Why did Ohtani ask all 30 teams to write the recruiting letter if he already made up his mind? Basic due diligence. Same with the face-to-face meetings.
Instead of being upset they're doing all this work to recruit Ohtani even though he may have already made up his mind, perhaps these teams should be thankful they had a chance to potentially change his mind with an in-person meeting? Talk about sour grapes. I'm sure teams will show the same level of concern when it comes time to make trade or negotiate a contract with a player in his pre-arbitration years.