Shohei Ohtani has reportedly narrowed the group of teams he’ll consider signing with, and it appears the A’s are out for the Japanese sensation who’s making the jump to the major leagues.
The Athletic reported Sunday that the A’s were among a number of teams told over the weekend that they didn’t make the cut. Ohtani and his representatives are planning to meet with clubs they’re interested in over the coming week. He reportedly is leaning toward signing with a West Coast team, with the Yankees and Red Sox among the more high-profile teams said to be out of the running.
The Giants, in the thick of trade talks for Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton, and the Seattle Mariners are two teams that will indeed meet with Ohtani, according to Yahoo Sports.
The A’s were never considered one of the favorites to land the two-way star, who desires to make an impact as both a pitcher and hitter in the bigs. But, like most all of the other 30 teams, Oakland felt it was worth throwing its hat in the ring for his services.
The 23-year-old Ohtani is classified as an international amateur, meaning he’s subject to international spending pool limits and therefore can’t command a large contract right away. That seemingly leveled the playing field for him and gave most teams optimism they had a shot for him, regardless of payroll size. The A’s were among many teams who sent a detailed presentation to Ohtani’s camp that essentially served as a sales pitch, with Oakland reportedly offering the chance for Ohtani to play the outfield on his non-pitching days.
Though Ohtani will come at an incredible bargain for whatever team lands him, the A’s still were hamstrung financially in trying to sign him. Because of penalties stemming from July 2016, when they spent way over their bonus pool limit to sign a group of highly touted international prospects, the A’s could only offer Ohtani a maximum $300,000 bonus. Several other clubs have the capability of offering a seven-figure bonus.
With the annual winter meetings just a week away in Orlando, Fla., the A’s remain on the lookout for a right-handed hitting corner outfielder and left-handed relief help. They’re also keeping an eye out for starting pitching, though front officials don’t categorize that as a major priority.