Yesterday, Shohei Ohtani was finally and officially posted by his NPB team and made available to all 30 teams in Major League Baseball.
Now, as he’s courted by literally every single team in baseball, he’ll have until midnight on December 22nd to decide where he’ll play for the next six years. And apparently, that process has already begun:
Japanese media has reported that Ohtani is in Los Angeles. He is expected to meet with major-league clubs as soon as next week.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 1, 2017
Here’s the latest from one of the biggest and strangest free agent pursuits in a very long time …
- In case you missed it, the Cubs may have finally gotten some good news in their pursuit of Ohtani. Yesterday, a couple stray reports indicated that Ohtani might prefer to play on a team without an existing (or presumably recent) Japanese star, so that he can avoid any unfair comparisons. As you know, the Cubs don’t have any current/recent former big-name Japanese stars, and many of their biggest competitors do.
- And then more recently, another slight advantage may have uncovered itself by way of an excellent conversation between some baseball smarties on Twitter:
I don’t even think it’s long-term. I bet if he signs with an AL team, he’s struggling to get important ABs by the second half. How many 23-year-olds are ready to DH for a contender?
— David Cameron (@DCameronFG) December 1, 2017
Yup. Which is why every NL team should be making that point clear, and why his reps should probably steer him towards one.
— David Cameron (@DCameronFG) December 1, 2017
- Are you following the logic? Basically, Petriello and Cameron are saying that if Ohtani’s bat is not up to snuff right away (which is a distinct possibility), he might struggle to find at-bats on an American League team who’s not willing to let him work through his struggles as the team’s primary DH. BUT, if he signs in the National League, he’ll be guaranteed at least a handful of at-bats every week (at minimum). If he figures it out in the meantime and proves he can handle it, then he can earn more starts in the outfield later. If he goes in the AL, though, and the bats start to dry up, that may be it forever.
- Speaking of the hitting, pitching and the American League:
The Yankees are willing to let Shohei Ohtani both pitch and hit in the Majors, according to Brian Cashman.
— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) December 1, 2017
- I mean, yeah. You’re not getting Ohtani if you don’t at least say this to start.
- In other AL-Ohtani news, I just keep seeing the Mariners pop up:
mariners big/main goal is to sign ohtani. same as many, many teams. it's said to be bordering on "obsession" for some of these teams. hard to blame them. really. $300M player for pennies is a worthwhile endeavor.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 1, 2017
- The Mariners have plenty to offer, so hopefully Ohtani truly doesn’t want to be compared to Ichiro anytime soon.
- But then again:
1 rival exec said he guesses the yankees have a 50-50 chance, maybe a little more, to end up with japanese league star shohei ohtani. in that bet, i'm taking the more.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 2, 2017
- At FanGraphs, Eno Sarris attempts to quantify which MLB team might be able to keep Shohei Ohtani the healthiest during his time in the states, and the Cubs (17th) unfortunately rank just outside the top half of the league. On the bright side, the Rangers (30th), Dodgers (29th), Yankees (25th), and Red Sox (24th), all of whom are serious Ohtani suitors/Cubs competitors, rank worse.
- Keith Law gives his full rundown on Ohtani here, complete with scouting on the pitching and hitting side. Everyone agrees that the potential to be a true ace is there. Plenty of disagreement on whether he could be a plus bat in the big leagues, though.
- And finally, this is just so funny/awesome:
With Shohei Ohtani eligible to sign with an @MLB team, the Japanese 2-way phenom enters our Top 30 International Prospects list. Scouting report, video & some unrivaled tool grades: https://t.co/URwZyrzB3F pic.twitter.com/UU9OvMvqFz
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) December 1, 2017
- Ohtani is, obviously, MLB Pipeline’s top international prospect and his scouting report is OFF THE CHARTS exciting. According to scouts, Ohtani’s fastball is an 80 on the 20-80 scouting scale, while his slider (65), curveball (50), splitter (65), and changeup (50) are all very impressive. Overall, as a pitcher, he receives a 70 grade – which, ugh GIVE HIM TO ME.
- … And there’s the scouting reports on his hitting/fielding. Naturally, Ohtani’s arm grades out as a perfect 80 (a 100 MPH fastball will usually do that for you), while his hitting (50), power (65), run (65), and overall score (60) give you so much to dream on (and obviously disagree with many of the scouting sources in Law’s piece).
Brett Taylor contributed to this post.