Japanese free agent Shohei Ohtani narrowed his list down to seven teams recently, and in the last three days, he has gotten a chance to meet with all seven of them.
Ohtani has prioritized playing on the West Coast, so five of the remaining teams, the Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants and Seattle Mariners, meet that criteria. While the other two finalists still in the running are the Texas Rangers and Chicago Cubs.
The Rangers have the most money to offer Ohtani at just over $3.5 million, which may be a factor in their having cautious optimism they’ll manage to sign the 23-year-old. However, the Mariners announced a trade Tuesday evening in which they acquired international bonus pool money from the Minnesota Twins.
According to Jon Morosi of MLB Network, Seattle received $1 million, which brings their total pool to about $2.5 million, second-most among the seven finalists:
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 7, 2017
Not be outdone, the Angels also netted $1 million in international bonus pool money from the Twins to put their total just over $2.3 million, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic:
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 7, 2017
These moves put the Dodgers at a significant disadvantage, as they are limited to just $300,000 to offer Ohtani because they exceeded their bonus pool allotment in previous international signing periods.
That being said, it’s unclear how much Ohtani is putting into the financial aspect. He’s often been pegged as a mild-mannered individual who is focused on playing baseball.
After meeting with all seven teams, Ohtani is expected to make a decision sooner rather than later. He has until 8:59 p.m. PT on Dec. 22 to officially sign with a team.