Officials with the Texas Rangers met Tuesday afternoon with Japanese free agent Shohei Ohtani at his agent’s office in Los Angeles, where a contingent led by co-owner Ray Davis, general manager Jon Daniels and manager Jeff Banister delivered their sales pitch to the two-way star.
A source said that others in the Rangers’ contingent included assistant general manager Josh Boyd, senior director of medical operations Jamie Reed, strength and conditioning coach Jose Vazquez, and Japanese scouts Joe Furukawa and Hajime Watabe.
At stake is landing the prize of the off-season, an affordable mega talent who the Rangers believe can pitch and have success at the plate in the major leagues. They are one of seven finalists, and the source said that the Seattle Mariners, believed by many to be the front-runners, met with Ohtani in the morning.
The Rangers’ travel party is geared toward many of the points Ohtani wanted discussed in the memo he asked all 30 MLB teams to complete.
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One of the seven subjects was player development and the training staff, which accounts for the presence of Reed and Vazquez.
Boyd has been traveling to Japan since Ohtani was 18 to scout him and attempt to forge a relationship. Furukawa and Watabe have been on the ground in Japan and have helped with assimilating past Japanese players, but primarily Yu Darvish, into the organization — another area Othani wants addressed.
All three can give their scouting report on Ohtani, and Daniels and Banister can explain how they plan to utilize him as a hitter and a pitcher.
Ohtani has until 10:59 p.m. Dec. 22 to select the team he wants. He is moving quickly, so much so that it’s possible he decides ahead of the deadline and is introduced next week during the annual winter meetings in Orlando, Fla.
The Rangers can offer him the largest bonus ($3.53 million) among the finalists, but Ohtani will be brought into an organization on a minor-league contract because he falls under rules for international free agents under age 25. Once he is added to an active major-league roster, he will be paid the minimum salary of $545,000.
The Rangers have taken steps to fill out their rotation as they wait on Ohtani, or in case they miss out on him. They signed right-hander Doug Fister to a one-year, $4 million deal and have agreed to a multi-year deal, pending a physical, with left-hander Mike Minor.
An effective reliever last season for the Kansas City Royals, Minor could transition back to starting.