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Obsessive Ohtani Watch: Not More Valuable in AL, Suspicion Will Follow Signing, Extension Parameters

Chicago Cubs Rumors, MLB News and Rumors

Yesterday and today we learned that the timeline for a new, finalized MLB-NPB posting agreement is expected to extend on into December (dang it), and maybe even longer if the Players Association doesn’t agree to a new deal. The union has set a Monday deadline for getting together on that deal. We’ll see if/how that proceeds.


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Either way, taken together, that will leave even more time for us all to fantasize about Shohei Ohtani’s potential impact (because we can’t even get all nutty about rumors until he’s ACTUALLY free to sign … ).

In the meantime, there are a few more things to share today …

  • Ken Rosenthal digs in on the reasons the union is reportedly holding things up, citing the disparity in the amount Ohtani’s team would receive ($20 million) and the maximum he could receive ($3.5 million), as well as other complaints that aren’t Ohtani-specific, and have to do with the timing of signings, the ability to withdraw signings, and service time concerns. You can read his piece for the particulars. Of note: like Jon Heyman’s report yesterday, there are some sources who believe the union is exaggerating its concerns with the posting agreement in order to block Ohtani from coming right now.
  • For his part, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred doesn’t believe the outstanding issues are “earth-shattering,” and sounds optimistic that things will be resolved.

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  • Travis Sawchik took a look at a big question in all of this: whether Ohtani is actually more valuable in the American League. Turns out? Sawchik’s calculations suggest the offensive value Ohtani adds would be about the same in the AL (as a semi-regular DH) and in the NL (hitting when he starts, and also pinch-hitting regularly). That should definitely be part of the sales pitch of a team like the Cubs.
  • More on Ohtani from Ken Rosenthal, focusing on the fact that pretty much no matter what happens with his free agency, the 29 teams that don’t get him are going to assume that the winner played dirty – that’s what happens when you have a $200 million talent subjected to the overbearing IFA restrictions.
  • And then it’ll all come back up whenever it is that Ohtani signs an extension. Was that a fresh negotiation? Did they promise that in free agency? Is it a reasonable extension based on his performance? Speaking of which, Tim Dierkes took a comparative approach to determining what kinds of extensions – and when – would be probably beyond the reach of MLB complaints, based on precedent. There, of course, have been players to receive pre-arb extensions without much (or even any) service time, but those contracts have tended to be far smaller than what you might be looking for in an Ohtani deal (if you were wink-wink enticing him to sign with your organization).

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  • That’s the problem: when an MLB team has control over a player, there isn’t any incentive to give him a free-agent-level contract extension, because salaries are artificially depressed in those first six or seven years of control. Which means, if Ohtani gets an earth-shattering extension within the first year of signing, that will be – on its very face – an indication that the extension was discussed before the team was selected.

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Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation.