FINAL UPDATE: 12/8/17 – Statement from Jon Daniels:
“We’re disappointed we weren’t Shohei Ohtani’s choice, but wish him the best in Anaheim. He impressed us on and off the field at every turn. However, had he asked our opinion, we would have suggested the National League.
“The upside of this pursuit is that it really brought our group closer together. The entire organization joined in. Josh Boyd, Haji Watabe, and Joe Furukawa had us as plugged in as you could hope. From there, our scouts worked tirelessly. Our front office, medical, and development groups put a ton of thought and creativity into how best to utilize a unique talent, how to support him, and what the impact would be on our club. Our business side rose to the occasion in a big way. The marketing, production, and graphic arts groups were absolute stars in this process. Their ability to take our vision and package it in a way worthy of the passion behind it was something to behold. I want to thank all of them. I’m proud to be a Ranger because of the people here.
“We also extend our sincere congratulations to the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters organization. Their work and care helped develop one of the best talents in the world. We wish the best to Mr. Yoshimura, Mr. Kuriyama, Mr. Iwamoto and the rest of the Fighters’ group.
“We don’t plan to have any further comment on this situation as our efforts are totally focused on improving the club for the 2018 season.”
UPDATE: 12/8/17 – Shohei Ohtani has chosen the Angels. A statement from Ohtani’s agent Nez Balelo reads, in part “What mattered to him most wasn’t market size, time zone or league but that he felt a true bond with the Angels. He sees this as the best environment to develop and reach the next level and attain his career goals.”
A true bond with the Angels. Ohtani must indeed be as unique as we thought.
UPDATE: 12/7/17, 4:36pm. The Mariners have pulled ahead of the Rangers in available cash, and oh by the way, acquired Dee Gordon to play center field for them in 2018. The Mariners are taking on all of Gordon’s three-year $38m contract, and have sent top prospects RHP Nick Neidert, INF Christopher Torres, and RHP Robert Dugger, according to Tim Healey of the Sun-Sentinel. More importantly to this column, the Marlins also sent $1m in international slot money to the Mariners, which puts them slightly ahead of Texas in available cash. Ken Rosenthal’s numbers are slightly different than ours, but if he is correct, the Mariners now have $3.557m available, to Texas’ $3.53m. According to DMN’s Evan Grant, the Rangers do have some flexibility to add up to, in his estimation ~1.06m more to their total.
This is a guess, but it feels to me like Ohtani wants to go to Seattle, and his agents told the Mariners if they could match or exceed Texas’ offer, he would sign with them. But that’s just a guess. We’ll know soon enough.
UPDATE: 12/6/17, 8:15pm According to Mark Feinsand, the Mariners have traded catcher David Banuelos to the Twins for $1m in additional money to spend on Ohtani. A few minutes later, word began to leak that the Angels, likewise, had traded for some of that sweet Minnesota cash, sending outfield prospect Jacob Pearson to the Twins, also for $1m. The Mariners now have $2.57m to spend, and the Angels have $2.315. Texas still leads the field with $3.53m available.
UPDATE: 12/5/17, 3:11pm. As first reported by Jeff Wilson of the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, the Rangers contingent of eight are meeting with Ohtani and his agent. Maybe even right now! The eight members of the traveling party are: co-owner Ray Davis, Jon Daniels, Josh Boyd, Jeff Banister, two members of the medical staff (Jamie Reed and Jose Vazquez), and Japanese scouts Joe Furukawa and Hajime Watabe. One Rangers official I spoke with today seemed to be—if not “optimistic”—at least upbeat about the team’s chances of landing the offseason’s biggest target, but reiterated that the challenge has been in ascertaining what is most important to Ohtani.
UPDATE: 12/4/17, 7:18am. As reported by more than a few sources, Ohtani has narrowed the field to seven teams. Here are those teams, with the amount of money they can offer Ohtani: Rangers ($3.53m), Mariners ($1.57m), Angels ($1.315m), Cubs ($300k), Padres ($300k), Dodgers ($300k), and Giants ($300k).
Here we go. Shohei Ohtani has officially been posted, and now all 30 MLB teams get to do their best impression of contestants on The Bachelor. There was even a written exam!
So now we watch while teams get the boot or remove themselves from the process. Bookmark this page, and we’ll update it as we get word. Feel free to post your guesses in the comments section; there will be a prize for one correct winner. (The prize is a high five.)
Texas Rangers – have the most $ to spend and also: steaks.
Seattle Mariners – not playing it cool at all.
Oakland Athletics – Aw, they tried.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – The winners, somehow. Ohtani doesn’t drive, so the traffic was apparently not a problem. The only—only—upside to this is that it made the “he’s afraid to play in a big market” people look really stupid.
Houston Astros – please, God, no. UPDATE: they are out. I really hope Yuli Gurriel was on the list of reasons the Astros didn’t make the cut.
Minnesota Twins – They were my official guess. I was wrong, according to Ken Rosenthal.
Chicago White Sox – “Wanna lose for the next 4-5 years?” UPDATE: he didn’t.
Cleveland Indians – only have $10,000 to spend. I’m okay scratching them off the list.
Kansas City Royals – Kinda hamstrung by money. Apparently BBQ wasn’t close enough to steak.
Detroit Tigers – “Wanna lose for the next 12-15 years?” UPDATE: he didn’t.
New York Yankees – Considered by many to be the favorite, they’re the first to announce they’ve been spurned.
Boston Red Sox – Shortly after the Yankees news, the Red Sox were also reported to be out of the running.
Baltimore Orioles – Probably waiting until he plays for the Rangers first.
Tampa Bay Rays – “Wanna lose for the next rest of your life?” UPDATE: he did not.
Toronto Blue Jays – Excellent.
Los Angeles Dodgers – Imagine if they weren’t interested. They are.
San Francisco Giants – They scouted him in Japan in September, and have $1.8m to spend.
Colorado Rockies – also only have $10,000 to spend. This strikethrough line is in pencil.
San Diego Padres – Ignore Preller at your peril.
Arizona Diamondbacks – Were never really in contention, now official.
Chicago Cubs – They’re trying it.
Milwaukee Brewers – “Saying we’re interested in case he wants to come here, for some reason.” (Update: he didn’t)
Pittsburgh Pirates – $2.26 million was 4th-most available. It was not enough.
Cincinnati Reds – It would have been so weird if he ends up in Cincinnati. He didn’t.
St. Louis Cardinals – Seemed to be prioritizing a trade for Stanton. They’re out.
New York Mets – “No downside to looking…” apparently wasn’t convincing verbiage.
Miami Marlins – Miami is the first one to give up, according to Yahoo! Sports.
Washington Nationals – Will not be joining hero Bryce Harper in DC.
Atlanta Braves – “GM recently banned for life” probably didn’t make the questionnaire. UPDATE: To the surprise of no one, Atlanta is out.
Philadephia Phillies – things never did look great for them:
Shohei Ohtani obliterated the Philadelphia Phillies, alas pic.twitter.com/Asam3vY7qt
— John Trupin (@JohnTrupin) December 1, 2017