Texas Rangers

Rangers have new targets should they miss on Ohtani

In 90 Seconds: Who is Shohei Ohtani?

Shohei Ohtani fever is coming to Arlington. The Japanese star pitcher/hitter is expected to be in the lineup at some point during the Rangers-Angels three-game series this week. Here's a look at his background.
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Shohei Ohtani fever is coming to Arlington. The Japanese star pitcher/hitter is expected to be in the lineup at some point during the Rangers-Angels three-game series this week. Here's a look at his background.

In the grand scheme of things on a busy Tuesday, the announcement of the Opening Day first pitch for the Texas Rangers next season was third on a list of three things. (For the record, it’s 2:30 p.m. March 29 vs. the defending world champions, the Houston Astros, on ESPN).

Bigger news came from MLB and the MLB Players Association, which found middle ground on a posting system that will allow Shohei Ohtani to play in the major leagues in 2018. The fine folks with Nippon Professional Baseball also had a hand in the agreement.

Assuming the owners sign off on the new system, Ohtani could hit the open market late next week, Friday or Saturday, and teams can begin the wooing process. It’ll take a $20 million fee, which is paid only by the team the Babe Ruth of Japan wants to join.

The Rangers are a contender, one of 12 to 15 who can pull it off and probably 1 of 5 who have a legit shot.

They have what is believed to be the largest bonus money available to hand out to Ohtani under the international signing rules. The New York Yankees are a close second, very close, after trading for more slot money Tuesday.

Money, though, isn’t a factor for Ohtani, who is coming to the U.S. two years before he could come as a free agent who isn’t subject to the international rules for players under age 25. Had he waited, he could have scored a deal worth nine figures.

Now, he’ll get the league minimum of $545,000, until he gets a lucrative extension.

So, what happens with all that cap money the Rangers have if they don’t sign Ohtani? Well, that’s where the other big news item from Tuesday comes into play.

The Atlanta Braves finally learned their penalty for a series of violations in Latin America, and the severity of the punishment is unprecedented.

MLB made 13 Braves prospects from Latin America free agents, including heralded prospect Kevin Maitan. The switch-hitting shortstop from Venezuela signed in 2016 as the No. 1 prospect for $4.25 million.

He’s 17 and reached A ball in 2017. If the Rangers miss on Ohtani, they will make a play for Maitan and the other former Braves prospects, who can sign from Dec. 5 to Jan. 15.

In an intriguing twist, teams can decide if the bonuses will come out of their 2017-18 international signing pool or their 2018-19 pool. In theory, the Rangers could land both Ohtani and Maitan. Or Ohtani and, say, catcher Abrahan Gutierrez, another coveted prospect the Braves forfeited.

There are plenty of possibilities.

Cuban center fielder Julio Pablo Martinez is likely to be declared a free agent before the current international signing period ends in June.

Maybe the Rangers make a play for Martinez if they miss on Ohtani and Maitan, though he could wait until the 2018-19 signing period opens July 2 to sign as all 30 MLB teams will have their international bonus pools restored.

There are coveted prospects to target if the Rangers miss out on Ohtani, the most coveted prospect.

It was quite a newsy Tuesday.

Rangers 2018 spring training schedule

Date

Opponent

City

Time

Feb. 24

Cubs

Mesa

2:05 p.m.

Feb. 25

Rockies

Surprise

2:05 p.m.

Feb. 26

Dodgers

Surprise

2:05 p.m.

Feb. 27

Dodgers

Glendale

2:05 p.m.

Feb. 28

White Sox

Glendale

2:05 p.m.

March 1

Padres

Surprise

2:05 p.m.



A’s

Mesa

2:05 p.m.

March 2

Indians

Goodyear

2:05 p.m.

March 3

Giants (ss)

Scottsdale

2:05 p.m.

March 4

Mariners

Surprise

2:05 p.m.

March 5

Giants

Surprise

2:05 p.m.

March 6

A’s

Mesa

2:05 p.m.

March 7

Rockies

Scottsdale

2:10 p.m.

March 8

White Sox (ss)

Surprise

2:05 p.m.

March 9

Reds

Goodyear

7:05 p.m.

March 10

A’s

Surprise

2:05 p.m.

March 11

Angels

Tempe

2:10 p.m.

March 12

Indians

Goodyear

3:05 p.m.



Royals (ss)

Surprise

8:05 p.m.

March 13

Brewers

Maryvale

3:05 p.m.

March 15

Brewers

Surprise

3:05 p.m.

March 16

Mariners

Surprise

3:05 p.m.

March 17

Royals (ss)

Surprise

2:05 p.m., 8:05 p.m.

March 18

Angels

Surprise

3:05 p.m.

March 19

Rockies

Surprise

8:05 p.m.

March 20

White Sox

Glendale

3:05 p.m.

March 21

Cubs

Surprise

3:05 p.m.

March 22

Reds

Surprise

8:05 p.m.



Mariners

Peoria

8:40 p.m.

March 23

Padres

Peoria

8:40 p.m.

March 24

Indians

Surprise

2:05 p.m.

March 26

Reds

Globe Life Park

7:05 p.m.

March 27

Reds

Globe Life Park

1:05 p.m.

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