In what was a bit of a surprising move, free agent Shohei Ohtani ruled out signing with the New York Yankees, among other teams, as he begins to schedule meetings with clubs.
The Yankees were one of the clubs that could offer Ohtani a signing bonus in the millions. Moreover, New York was considered the favorite by many to sign the two-way Japanese star, but it appears he is prioritizing playing on the West Coast and preferably for a small market team.
The Los Angeles Dodgers don’t fit the profile of being in a small market, but they have shown interest in Ohtani for a while now. While a slew of teams were ruled out left and right Sunday afternoon, it does not appear the Dodgers were one of them.
According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Dodgers are believed to be on a short list of teams that will be meeting with Ohtani and his representatives in the coming days:
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 4, 2017
Ohtani was posted by his Japanese team, the Nippon-Ham Fighters, after a new posting system was agreed upon and ratified. Ohtani’s decision is expected to come rather quickly, as he only has until 8:59 p.m. PT on Friday, Dec. 22, to sign with a team.
The Dodgers have a history of great Japanese pitchers, as Hideo Nomo, Takashi Saito, Hiroki Kuroda, Kenta Maeda and Yu Darvish have all pitched for the organization at some point in their respective careers, with Maeda on the current roster.
Some believe that Ohtani would prefer to not play on a team that already has a Japanese star on it, and if that is the case then the Dodgers may not end up being a match.
Los Angeles is limited to offering him a $300,000 signing bonus because of exceeding their international bonus pool in the previous signing period. The Rangers have the most to offer Ohtani at $3.535 million.