Japanese star Shohei Ohtani was officially posted by the Nippon-Ham Fighters on Friday, giving him 21 days to sign with a Major League team. More specifically, the deadline for Ohtani to sign is by 8:59 p.m. PT on Dec. 22.
Just about every team in baseball has shown interest in the two-way player, and it is expected he will begin meeting with teams in Los Angeles this week. In advance of being posted, Ohtani sent a questionnaire to all 30 teams.
Among the inquiries included on it were how the club would use him and what the organization had to offer as an organization. The memo in some regarded served as a screening process for the 23-year-old.
The New York Yankees were among the teams identified as a heavy favorite for Ohtani. His being bound by international bonus pool guidelines essentially made for an even playing field.
But according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, Othani has eliminated the Boston Red Sox, Minnesota Twins and Yankees from consideration, while the San Francisco Giants and Seattle Mariners remain in contention:
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 3, 2017
Indications are Ohtani not only prefers the West Coast, but a smaller market, via Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball:
haven't heard yanks are officially out, but ohtani is telling teams he prefers a smaller market. which could bode well for twins, mariners, padres, pirates, etc. https://t.co/eXM88aPVPb
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 3, 2017
Ohtani is one of the most highly sought after free agents this offseason, and it comes as no surprise because of his production in Japan. As a hitter, he owns a career slash line of .286/.358/.500 in 1,170 plate appearances, with 70 doubles, 48 home runs and 166 RBI.
On the mound, he has pitched to a 2.52 ERA and 1.08 WHIP over 543 career innings with 624 strikeouts — good for a 10.3 strikeouts per nine innings.
Aside from the Dodgers possibly facing an uphill battle because of Ohtani’s reported preference to avoid a big market, he was also said to not be interested in signing with a team that already had a Japanese star on their roster.