The agent of Japanese two-way star Shohei Ohtani has asked each MLB team intending to bid on him to explain -- in writing -- how he would fit in the organization and why he should play for that team, among other details, according to the Associated Press.
A Dec. 1 vote will determine the fate of a new posting agreement that would allow teams to bid on Ohtani.
Nez Balelo, who serves as the co-head of CAA Baseball, sent out the memo to every MLB team on Friday. Teams are expected to evaluate Ohtani's player development, medical training and performance philosophies and facilities, and his talent as a pitcher and hitter. Teams are also asked to explain how Ohtani would assimilate into that team's city, how he would fit on the team, and why he should be playing for that team.
Financial details will not be ironed out at this time, but The Nippon Ham Fighters will likely set a $20 million maximum posting price.
Major League Baseball, Nippon Professional Baseball, and the MLB Players Association agreed earlier in the week to tentative posting terms that could pave the way for Ohtani to move to the MLB, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
The posting system, which would cover three years, including this off-season, needs to be ratifed by owners.
Sandy Alderson said last week that the Mets would not rule out a pursuit of Ohtani.
The final hurdle for Ohtani is the MLBPA allowing the old posting system to be grandfathered in to allow his Japanese club to post him for a fee of $20 million.
Ohtani, 23, hit .332 with a .403 OBP, 8 home runs, 16 doubles, and 1 triple in 65 games this past season for Nippon, while playing right field and left field. During his five-year career as a pitcher, he has a 2.52 ERA and 1.07 WHIP with 624 strikeouts in 82 starts. He's fastball has reportedly reached 101 MPH.
MLB teams would have to pay the above $20 million posting fee to Nippon before being granted permission to negotiate with Ohtani. According to current international rules, the signing bonus must come from the MLB team's international bonus pool.
Based on what is left in each team's allotment, the Yankees are able to offer Otani a $3.25 million bonus, whereas the Red Sox can offer just $462,000 and the Mets can offer just $150,000.
However, unlike in previous years, MLB teams no longer have to pay Ohtani a long-term contract, such as the six-year deal that had been given to Yu Darvish when he transferred from Japan to the United States. Instead, like all rookies, Ohtani is allowed to earn only the league minimum during his first three seasons before becoming eligible for salary arbitration.
Because Ohtani is intent on leaving Japan now, likely leaving hundreds of millions of dollars on the table, the belief is that the main factor regarding where he signs will not be money.
According to multiple reports, the Mets were not among the 15 teams to scout Ohtani in Japan during September. The Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, and Nationals were rumored to be in attendance.
"I want to go to an environment where I can continue to get better," Ohtani recently said. "I felt the same way when I graduated from high school. And it is my strongest reason for wanting to go now."
The scouts and people in player development that I know are familiar with him all say he'll have a better MLB career as a pitcher than a hitter. But, make no mistake, he absolutely is a good enough hitter to also be an everyday position player, which is what he reportedly wants to do.
The buzz in baseball is that he will immediately be a front-line starter if he is used primarily as a pitcher. As a hitter, he may need a little time in to work on shortening his swing and adjusting to a big-league approach, but it will not take him long to figure it out...
The thing I find most intriguing and compelling about his story is the pride he takes in being a two-way player. He is said to view it has a challenge and opportunity to redefine what it means to be a complete, all-around, elite talent. He's done it in Japan. Now, more than earning billions of dollars and locking up endorsement deals, he wants create a similar definition in America.
The Mets recently traded a minor leaguer to Baltimore for $1 million of their pool money, which should have allowed Sandy Alderson to offer just under a $2 million signing bonus to Otani. The above number states it is just $150,000, so someone is wrong. It could very easily be me, so I will try and research this in more detail this afternoon. In either case, if granted the right to negotiate, I have no sense of what type of contract Alderson would be willing to offer, especially given he's trying to spend less, not more, money than last year.
Danny Abriano, SNY.tv | Twitter |
If Ohtani winds up signing with the Rangers, and it turns out this was about the money, it will be clear that the Mets -- and any other team that can only offer him a bonus in the hundreds of thousands -- had no chance.
But what if he signs with the Dodgers, who can offer only $300,000? Or the Angels, who can offer only $150,000? With it seeming like this will come down to many more factors than just money, it would've been negligent for the Mets to not at least throw their hats in the ring.
Ohtani is a true once-in-a-generation talent, and it's fair to believe that he will want to sign with a large-market team, where he would be able to maximize his exposure while landing lucrative endorsement deals.
The belief from many is that Ohtani would wind up with the Yankees way before he winds up with the Mets. But why should the Mets have sat back and allowed that? Or allowed another team to land Ohtani without them even trying?
Despite an injury-riddled losing season in 2017, the Mets are not some lost cause. They made the World Series in 2015, made the playoffs again in 2016, and are aiming to return to contention in 2018. They also have the same exact market to offer Ohtani that the Yankees do. Make the pitch.