Japanese two-way star Shohei Ohtani won't sign with the New York Yankees, GM Brian Cashman said on Sunday, according to NJ.com's Brendan Kuty.
Ohtani, a 23-year-old star pitcher and outfielder, was posted on Friday by his Japanese club, the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, and must sign with an MLB team within 21 days of the posting. He is expected to meet with MLB teams this week.
The Yankees had among the most money ($3.25 million) to offer Ohtani based on their international bonus pool, however Ohtani has reportedly preferred to play for a smaller-market team or on the West Coast, according to MLB.com's Bryan Hoch. Cashman said he got the feeling Ohtani was never seriously considering signing with the Yankees despite their presentation, according to Kuty.
Cashman called the news Ohtani would not join the Yankees "disappointing," according to Hoch.
Ohtani has narrowed his list down to seven teams -- the Angels, Cubs, Dodgers, Giants, Mariners, Padres, and Rangers, according to multiple reports.
Cashman said on Friday the Yankees were willing to let Ohtani hit and pitch if he joined the team.
"Ohtani represents the next great talent that's available in baseball," Cashman told reporters on Friday, "and (the New York) stage is made for players like this."
Ohtani had a lifetime .286/.358/.500 batting line in five seasons with Hokkaido. On the mound, he went 42-15 with a 2.52 ERA in 85 career games (82 starts).
I was never 100 percent sold that Ohtani would be a Yankee, but I felt there was a good chance (60 percent) because the way I saw it, there was a realistic fit for both sides.
Ohtani's preference for the West Coast makes sense in terms of proximity to Japan, and each of those clubs have experience with Japanese players. As for the Rangers and Cubs - two large market clubs - they also have housed Japanese players, and there is a chance that Ohtani believes the media pressure will not be as amplified there as in New York or Boston. He faces enough pressure living up to the hype of a two-way player being compared to Babe Ruth, arguably the best player the game has ever seen, let alone landing on the back pages of the New York or Boston tabloids.
It is hard to fault Ohtani for this line of reasoning as it's a life-altering decision and one he'll have to deal with for several years. The remaining clubs in the hunt also begs the question that maybe there was something to the rumor that he wanted to be the only Japanese "star" on the team. That remains to be seen.
While the Yankees would have benefitted from signing Ohtani (all teams would have), it is not like they will be worse off without him as they return much of the team that came within one win of the World Series this season. That said, missing out on Ohtani seems to point to a continuing relationship with CC Sabathia. I felt the Yankees would sign Sabathia either way, but with Ohtani not in the mix, the left-hander feels like a sure thing. Also, the Yankees may look at ways to add a bat into the designated hitter area, though they have plenty of at-bats to spread around the current roster.
I would also suspect the Yankees will make a strong effort to sign Kevin Maitan, the former Braves prospect who recently became a free agent, considering the international bonus funds at their disposal.