The Mariners’ spirited attempt to sign Shohei Ohtani ended in heartbreak when the Japanese ace/slugger signed with the division-rival Angels last week. Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto acknowledged that he was disappointed in the outcome when speaking about Ohtani’s decision Monday. He was gracious in defeat, though, telling Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times and other reporters that he’s “happy for” Ohtani and expects he’ll be “a great fit” in Anaheim.
With the Ohtani dream dead, the Mariners have been monitoring the free agent market for pitching, Dipoto revealed. “We have a sense that the market is starting to pick up. I feel like we are in a deal making zone,” he said (Twitter links here). Along with searching for pitching, Dipoto is looking to trade some of the international bonus pool money the Mariners acquired when they were trying to increase their chances to sign Ohtani, Greg Johns of MLB.com tweets. Dipoto also suggested that there won’t be anymore big additions to a Mariners position player group that just landed Dee Gordon. Instead, any new pickups are likely to come via waivers, minor league deals or the Rule 5 draft.
More from the American League:
- The Tigers engaged in contract extension talks with outfielder/third baseman Nicholas Castellanos’ agent after the season, but they haven’t had any discussions since, general manager Al Avila told reporters Monday. It looks unlikely the two sides will reach an agreement, per Jason Beck of MLB.com (Twitter link). As things stand, the soon-to-be 26-year-old Castellanos is controllable for just two more seasons. The former top prospect will make a projected $7.6MM in arbitration in 2018, when he’ll try for a third straight above-average offensive showing. Castellanos, who slugged a career-best 26 home runs last season, has batted .277/.325/.493 with 44 HRs in 1,112 plate appearances since 2016.
- The Yankees expressed interest in free agent Carlos Santana after Ohtani turned them down and before they acquired Giancarlo Stanton, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post reports (Twitter link). Now, Stanton’s presence removes any need for the Yanks to add another hitter, meaning he won’t end up with them, as Davidoff notes.
- Even without Stanton, New York finished 15 games ahead of division-rival Toronto in 2017. Nevertheless, Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins iterated Monday that they’re aiming to rebound, not rebuild, next season. Atkins told reporters, including Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet, that he’s focused on putting together the “best possible team.” That would likely mean retaining star third baseman Josh Donaldson as he enters a contract year, which the Jays seem inclined to do. “It’s hard to imagine making (the Jays) better without Josh,” Atkins noted (Twitter link).
- On the other hand, the Stanton deal may hasten a rebuild for the Rays, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes. The Rays would be wise to take that route, Topkin posits, thanks in part to the fact that New York and Boston are in their division. Additionally, the payroll-challenged club already looked primed to trade notable veterans even before the Yankees got Stanton. On the heels of a fourth straight sub-.500 season, the Rays will also lose righty Alex Cobb to free agency, which will make it all the more difficult for them to compete in the near term, Topkin points out.