The pursuit of Japanese free agent Shohei Ohtani has begun for the seven teams he narrowed his list down to. Ohtani reportedly met with the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on Monday.
Ohtani then met with the Texas Rangers, Chicago Cubs and Seattle Mariners on Tuesday, leaving only the San Diego Padres for Wednesday.
Due to the new posting agreement, Ohtani only has until Dec. 22 to sign with a team, so a resolution could come sooner rather than later. Possibly even before or during the Winter Meetings next week.
Ohtani has not tipped his hand on who is the favorite to land him, but it appears that after their meeting, the Rangers feel they have strong odds, via T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com:
Top Rangers officials officially met with pitcher Shohei Ohtani and his representatives on Tuesday in Los Angeles. They are also expressing quiet confidence inside the industry that they have a “good chance” of signing the Japanese pitching/hitting superstar.
The Rangers do have a significant advantage over all other teams, as they have the most money to offer Ohtani in the form of a $3.5 million signing bonus. In comparison, the Dodgers can only offer a maximum of $300,000 because of exceeding their bonus pool allotment in previous international signing periods.
Ohtani has prioritized playing on the West Coast, which Texas of course is not, so that could outweigh the financial factor. But it’s also believed 23-year-old would prefer to play in a smaller market.
The Rangers do have a history with Japanese players, as they signed Yu Darvish out of Japan in 2012. He played his first five seasons with Texas before being sent to the Dodgers at the trade deadline this season.
There hasn’t been much movement on the free agent market to this point, although the Rangers were able to ink left-handed pitcher Mike Minor to a three-year contract.
Once Ohtani signs it could open up the floodgates though as many teams are waiting on him to see what moves they need to make.