With Shohei Ohtani’s trip to the open market approaching, the phenom’s agent sent a memo on Friday to all major league teams requesting written explanations in both English and Japanese on why they’d be the right fit for the right-handed ace/left-handed slugger, as the Associated Press first reported.
Ohtani’s lead representative, Nez Balelo of CAA Sports, told teams not to include financial terms of a potential contract in their answers. But with Ohtani’s Japanese organization, the Nippon Ham Fighters, primed to post him as early as Dec. 1, Balelo informed major league clubs that he’d like to receive their responses as soon as possible.
Here’s a rundown of the memo’s specifics, courtesy of Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times:
- “An evaluation of Shohei’s talent as a pitcher and/or a hitter;
- “Player development, medical, training and player performance philosophies and capabilities;
- “Major League, Minor League, and Spring Training facilities;
- “Resources for Shohei’s cultural assimilation;
- “A detailed plan for integrating Shohei into the organization;
- “Why the city and franchise are a desirable place to play;
- “Relevant marketplace characteristics.”
While nothing listed above is particularly surprising, it’s the first real look at the factors that will influence the ballyhooed Ohtani’s decision when he officially becomes free to sign with any major league team. Thanks to the rules in the collective bargaining agreement, the 23-year-old Ohtani will have to sign an inexpensive minor league contract this offseason, and the fact that there’s a fairly even financial playing field figures to lead to interest from every big league team. It’s worth noting, though, that the Rangers, Yankees, Twins, Pirates, Marlins and Mariners are entering the Ohtani sweepstakes in the most advantageous positions in terms of international bonus pool space.
Of those six clubs, the Rangers, Yankees and Mariners have had the most success reeling in Japanese stars in the past, which may help in their attempts to win the Ohtani sweepstakes, but this is setting up to be either a 30-team battle royale or something close to it. The major league franchise that outdoes the other 29 in courting Ohtani will have to pay a maximum $20MM posting fee to his Japanese team, though that’s a relative pittance to secure a potential two-way superstar who could dramatically alter an organization both on and off the field.