An underlying tone to the 2017 MLB season was whether or not the Nippon-Ham Fighters would move forward with posting Shohei Ohtani. Although making the jump stateside at 23 years old would limit how lucrative of a contract he could sign, Ohtani made it clear he wished to do so.
The Fighters eventually honored his request, and Ohtani was officially posted last December. Prior to that point, he sent out a questionnaire to all 30 MLB teams, requesting info on how he would be utilized and details on an organization’s facilities, among other areas.
It was used for Ohtani to have a field of finalists that he would meet with upon being posted. The group was comprised of Chicago Cubs, Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers.
Ohtani met with representatives from the seven clubs prior to making a decision to sign with the Angels, who were able to offer him a $2.135 million signing bonus.
While there was a recruiting process of sorts, which was completed in Los Angeles, Justin Turner felt as though Ohtani had arrived at his decision upon meeting with the Dodgers, per Andy McCullough of the L.A. Times:
“I felt like it was a waste of my time,” Turner said.
“He might as well have not been sitting there,” Turner said, using an expletive for emphasis. “We might as well have been speaking to a window.”
Clayton Kershaw echoed a similar sentiment, taking umbrage with Ohtani’s agent, Nez Balelo of Creative Artists Agency:
“Just a gigantic waste of time,” Kershaw said.
“It really just seemed like it was pre-determined that he wanted to DH,” Kershaw said. “I’m kind of mad at his agent for making us waste all that time and effort. Fifteen teams should have been out of it, from the beginning. I know it’s probably frustrating for everybody in the National League. A lot of guys spent a lot of time trying to figure out what makes him tick, and try to get him over here.”
Considering Ohtani had desires to both hit and pitch, the Dodgers, and other National League clubs were generally perceived of being at a disadvantage. But there also was plenty of uncertainty as to what exactly made Ohtani tick.
Reports during the process ranged from him being hesitant to join a team that already had an established Japanese star, to wanting to avoid a large city. Ultimately, Ohtani explained he forged the strongest bond with the Angels organization.