Shohei Otani

Two finalists for Shohei Ohtani acquire significant pool money from Twins

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AP

Two finalists for Shohei Ohtani acquire significant pool money from Twins

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Seattle Mariners and Los Angeles Angels each have acquired $1 million in international bonus pool money from the Minnesota Twins, aiding their pursuit of Japanese outfielder and pitcher Shohei Ohtani.

The teams announced the deals Wednesday night. Seattle sent minor league catcher David Banuelos to Minnesota, while the Angels traded minor league outfielder Jacob Pearson to the Twins.

Seattle can now offer Ohtani $2,557,500 and Los Angeles can spend $2,315,000. The Texas Rangers have the most slot money available with $3,535,000. The Giants, Cubs, Dodgers and Padres can only spend $300,000. Seattle, Los Angeles and Texas are among seven teams believed to be in the running for Ohtani.

Minnesota had $3.07 million in bonus pool money before the trades, but it is not among the finalists in the Ohtani bidding.

Banuelos was a fifth-round draft pick this year from Long Beach State. He is considered a strong fielder and was a finalist for the Johnny Bench Award as one of the nation's top amateur catchers.

Pearson was Los Angeles' third-round selection this year.

Source: Giants one of first known finalists to meet with Shohei Ohtani

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AP

Source: Giants one of first known finalists to meet with Shohei Ohtani

SAN FRANCISCO — As the Giants continued to wait for Giancarlo Stanton to make a decision, they switched gears for a few hours Monday and put the full-court press on their other offseason target. 

Multiple sources told NBC Sports Bay Area that the Giants sent a large contingent to meet with Ohtani on Monday afternoon in Los Angeles. They are the first known team to sit down face to face with the Japanese superstar, who was posted last week and intends to be a two-way player next season. The Giants sent the majority of their front office, including Larry Baer, Brian Sabean, Bobby Evans and Jeremy Shelley. Bruce Bochy was also sent to the meeting, and a source said the Giants called Buster Posey in to help with the recruiting. 

Per multiple reports, Ohtani narrowed his field over the weekend, focusing on seven teams. The list is heavy on the West Coast, with the Giants joined by the Dodgers, Angels, Padres and Mariners. The Cubs and Rangers are the other two teams that will get a meeting with Ohtani. 

The Giants have been on Ohtani since he was a high school star, and they made him a focus late in a disappointing season. Evans and Shelley visited Japan in October to scout Ohtani in person. When Ohtani officially became available on Friday, Bochy told NBC Sports Bay Area that a plan was presented to use Ohtani as a top-of-the-rotation starter and a part-time outfielder. 

“This guy is special,” Bochy said on Friday. “I see him as somebody who could be a starter and it’s possible you’re also looking at 300 or 400 at-bats. It’s going to make it a little easier next year with our days off, looking at the new schedule, to where he could play even more because he’ll get that additional rest. That’ll make it easier, too.”

Former A's slugger Gomes offers Ohtani scouting report: 'Big fan of the dude'

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AP

Former A's slugger Gomes offers Ohtani scouting report: 'Big fan of the dude'

Former A's left fielder/DH and Bay Area native, Jonny Gomes, last played Major League Baseball in 2015. The next year, Gomes looked to continue his career in Japan with the Rakuten Golden Eagles. 

Gomes struggled in Japan, batting just .169 in 18 games. While in Japan though, Gomes saw firsthand the two-way talent of Shohei Ohtani. 

"The dude throws 100 miles per hour consistently," Gomes said Tuesday to MLB Network Radio. "That plays."

With MLB, the Players Association, and the Nippon Professional Baseball Organization agreeing to a new posting system, Ohtani should soon be available as a free agent to MLB teams. Gomes was adamant that Ohtani will live up to the hype. 

"If you have the arm speed to throw 100 miles per hour, guess what your slider's gonna do -- yikes. And he also has a split, which is yikes with that arm speed. And he also has a changeup, and he also has a curveball. You're talking about five plus, plus, plus pitches.

"If he was in the draft, I think it would be a no-brainer right now that he'd be No. 1 overall," Gomes said. 

Since turning pro as an 18-year-old, Ohtani has been a dominant force on the mound. The 6-foot-3 right-hander owns a 42-15 career record with a 2.52 ERA and 1.076 WHIP. 

What makes Ohtani, 23, so intriguing is that he's not only the best pitcher in Japan, he may be the best hitter too. In 2017, Ohtani hit .332 with eight home runs in 65 games. The left fielder/DH owns a .286/.358/.500 career slash line with 48 home runs. 

"Now hitting wise, is it gonna transfer, is it not? I've seen the dude hit a fly ball that hit the roof of the Tokyo Dome," Gomes remembers. "So, what does that tell you? That bat speed's there, that power's there, that he's generating a lot out front.

"To be able to hit the roof of the Tokyo Dome is way more impressive than hitting any other roof in the states. It would be like hitting the roof in Seattle when it was closed, it's way up there."

Everyone knows about Ohtani off-the-charts talent. The stats are there. What we don't know as much about is his personality. Gomes does and he believes his leadership will make him be a star in the states. 

"I'm a big fan of the dude," Gomes says. "I saw his work ethic, I saw how players treated him, I saw how respectful he was. Over there it's all about seniority. Granted he was the biggest star on the field at any given moment, but still gave the utmost respect to seniority guys on his ball club."