Shohei Ohtani started telling MLB teams Sunday night that he will not consider them for his jump from Japan, and sources with those teams started telling national baseball reporters.
Conspicuously absent from the nay column were the Texas Rangers, long considered front-runners for the two-way star who was posted Friday afternoon by the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters.
Rangers general manager Jon Daniels makes it his regular business practice to not leak the club’s business to media members, and he and others with the Rangers didn’t return text messages seeking confirmation.
So, no news might not be good news, but it appears as if the Rangers will get the opportunity to sit down with Ohtani in the coming days.
The New York Yankees headline the group of 14 teams told they won’t be getting Ohtani. Yankees GM Brian Cashman confirmed it to Yankees reporters, and said that he would be feeling pretty good if he were a West Coast team in a small market.
That led to immediate speculation that the Seattle Mariners, who have said they are all-in on Ohtani, are the favorites. The Mariners, San Francisco Giants and San Diego Padres are reportedly still in the hunt.
The Rangers are joined by the Chicago Cubs and both Los Angeles teams as those whose status in the Ohtani Sweepstakes is not yet known.
The Rangers can offer Ohtani the largest bonus of any team, but money clearly isn’t a significant factor for him. His questionnaire to clubs asked about player development, training, medical practice and facilities, among other topics.
It is believed that Ohtani will not sign with a team that won’t allow him the chance to pitch and bat. The right-handed pitcher has thrown the fastest pitch in the history of Nippon Professional Baseball, and as a left-handed hitter Ohtani was a legitimate power threat.