Athletics

Examining A's selling points as they pursue Japanese star Shohei Ohtani

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AP

Examining A's selling points as they pursue Japanese star Shohei Ohtani

After completing perhaps the most unique recruiting pitch in franchise history, the A’s are in the same boat as every other club pursuing Shohei Ohtani.

They can only wait and hope that their presentation stirs the interest of Japan’s 23-year-old two-way baseball sensation, who is making the jump to the majors this season.

Ohtani will be posted by his current team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, as soon as Friday, at which point he’ll have a 21-day negotiating window to hammer out a deal with a major league team.

Whoever lands him gets a player with the extraordinary skill set to pitch near the top of a rotation and contribute potential 20-homer power as a hitter on days he doesn’t take the mound. And because he is considered an amateur under MLB’s international signing rules, Ohtani is subject to bonus pool limits, making him not only the most unique talent to enter the majors in decades but an incredibly affordable one for any of the 30 major league clubs.

That’s why the A’s are taking their shot.

Ohtani’s representatives requested that all teams interested in him submit a presentation, in both English and Japanese, outlining how they would use him and what the benefits would be for him playing in their market.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported Thursday that Oakland not only sent off its presentation but also offered to let Ohtani play the outfield on his non-pitching days, an effort to distinguish them from clubs who might have him pegged for designated hitter duty.

Now, understand the A’s are — and should be — considered a long shot to win the Ohtani jackpot. Teams such as the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees play in major markets that offer lucrative endorsement opportunities that would help offset the minimal salary Ohtani will make to begin his career. Those teams are ready to win now.

The A’s also are hindered by financial penalties that stem from them exceeding previous international spending limits. The most Oakland can offer Ohtani is a $300,000 bonus on top of the major league minimum he likely would begin with. Contrast that with the Texas Rangers, who have the biggest bonus to offer at $3.535 million. Whoever lands Ohtani also has to pay a $20 million posting fee to his former club in Japan, but that’s small potatoes considering the $200 million contract that many believe he would command as a full-fledged free agent.

So what do the A’s have going in their favor?

They can sell Ohtani on the idea that he perfectly fits their immediate needs. With a fastball that touches 100 miles per hour, Ohtani can be a front-of-the-rotation presence for a team that has questions regarding its starting five. The A’s outfield hardly is settled, and they surely could find a way to use his bat (Ohtani throws right-handed but bats left-handed).

They can emphasize the cultural diversity of the Bay Area, and point out how another newcomer to the United States — Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes — found a comfortable home with the A’s and flourished in his first season of 2012.

By coming to the majors at a young age, and giving up tens of millions of dollars in doing so, Ohtani sends the message that baseball factors override financial ones, at least for now. There’s plenty to like about the A’s from a baseball standpoint, notably the young core of talent that Ohtani could join in helping lead the team back to prominence.

It’s going to be tough, perhaps impossible, for the A’s to nudge their way to the front of the pack for Ohtani’s services. But landing such a player could do wonders for the A’s in terms of boosting attendance and generating momentum for a franchise still trying to convince residents of its own city that building a ballpark is a good idea for all.

Ohtani is a once-in-a-generation talent, and given the unique factors surrounding his arrival, the A’s rightly are dreaming big.

POLL: A's Memorable Moments -- Braden's perfect game vs Manaea's no-hitter

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AP

POLL: A's Memorable Moments -- Braden's perfect game vs Manaea's no-hitter

PROGRAMMING NOTE: NBC Sports California is looking back at the A's 50 Memorable Moments since the franchise relocated to Oakland in 1968. Below are the next two moments you can vote on. Tune into A's Pregame Live today at 6:30 p.m. to watch highlights of the two moments. After the A's and Giants conclude, tune into A's Postgame Live to see which moment will move on to the next round!

1. Dallas Braden's Perfect Game on Mother's Day 2010 (19-time winner)

(From Dallas Braden)

Well, they haven’t taken it away yet so I guess it might not be a dream after all. It’s still insane to think that on such a special day for so many people, my teammates and I were able to etch ourselves into the hearts of A’s fans everywhere.

In the moment, I had no clue. At the same time, I was fully aware. Completely focused and emotionally distracted at the same time. Hell, I talked myself into the wrong count in the last at-bat of the game. The 27th out. In that moment I had no clue. No clue I’d become the vehicle for such an emotional moment shared between mothers and their families across baseball that special day. I do believe that’s what I was -- merely a vehicle to connect people through our beautiful game. My mom, along with the baseball gods, and Landon Powell, I guess, all steered us down the path of history and to be able to share and relive those special moments and memories is a blessing a young little leaguer can only dream of.

I hope that through my passion for the game you feel the same love I, myself, my wife, baby girl, and grandmother have felt from each of you, the fans of the Green & Gold. We couldn’t be happier to share this Mother’s Day and every Mother’s Day from here on out, TOGETHER! It’s a perfect fit if you ask me.

VS.

2. Sean Manaea's no-hitter vs Red Sox on April 21, 2018

(From Sean Manaea)

VOTE HERE: 

Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani cleared to begin throwing

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USATSI

Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani cleared to begin throwing

ANAHEIM — The Los Angeles Angels say two-way star Shohei Ohtani’s elbow ligament is continuing to heal and he has been medically cleared to begin a throwing progression.

The team said Ohtani was given a six-week evaluation Thursday by Dr. Steve Yoon at the Kerlan Jobe Institute. The Angels said they would release specifics about his progress and rehabilitation schedule at another time.

Ohtani was placed on the disabled list with an ulnar collateral ligament sprain on June 8 after complaining about tightness in his right elbow following a June 6 start against Kansas City. The Japanese sensation has since returned to the roster as a designated hitter, but his prospects to pitch remain unclear.

He is hitting .283 with seven home runs and 22 RBIs. On the mound, Ohtani won four of his first five decisions before getting injured.