Texas Rangers

How do Rangers fare vs. other six Ohtani finalists?

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.

Crickets could be heard on the phone lines to Texas Rangers officials again Monday, as club officials continued to keep their mouths shut and their fingers from texting with the media.

Baseball sources, though, confirmed that the Rangers are one of the teams that are alive in the Shohei Ohtani Sweepstakes, and they will meet with the two-way star from Japan at some point soon.

So, too, reportedly, will the Seattle Mariners, San Francisco Giants, San Diego Padres, Chicago Cubs and both Los Angeles clubs.

It’s presumed that the meetings will take place this week in Los Angeles, where Ohtani is plotting with agent Nez Balelo. Ohtani has until 10:59 p.m. Dec. 22 to choose a team to sign with under the international rules for players age 25 and under.

The Rangers can offer Ohtani the largest signing bonus among the reported remaining contenders, at $3.53 million, but it’s clear that money is not a priority for him after he decided to enter the majors two years before he could have signed a nine-figure contract.

Location appears to be a priority for Ohtani. The Rangers are nearly the eastern-most team among the finalists, though if travel to and from Japan is an issue, American Airlines offers daily nonstop flights to Tokyo.

The notion that Ohtani is seeking a small market, in light of rejecting the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, isn’t accurate with the Cubs, Rangers, Angels and Dodgers still in the hunt.

If traffic is any measure of market size, Seattle and San Francisco aren’t as small as they would like to think.

So, how do the Rangers match up with the others, mindful, of course, of the seven questions Ohtani used as framework for his paring process.

1. Talent as a pitcher and hitter

Every single team is going to tell Ohtani, whether they believe it or not or want it or not, that he can be a pitching and hitting star in the majors.

The Rangers have some flexibility at designated hitter and in right field to allow Ohtani to gain at-bats, assuming they don’t acquire a center fielder. They would prefer Shin-Soo Choo to be the designated hitter, which would open up right field for Ohtani on occasion.

American League teams are thought to have the edge here.

Rangers advantage or disadvantage: Slight advantage

2. Player development, medical training, facilities

The Rangers claim to be proactive from a coaching standpoint and can point to some success stories. Elvis Andrus has become a complete player. Robinson Chirinos has become a front-line catcher. Alex Claudio is an effective reliever. Joey Gallo, Nomar Mazara and Rougned Odor have star qualities.

The medical team is highly regarded by the club, which hasn’t turned over the staff for several years. The Rangers have tried to be proactive with nutrition.

Should Ohtani come to Arlington for a look-see, he’s sure to notice a giant hole in the ground across the street from Globe Life Park. That’s the future site of Globe Life Field, a retractable-roof, air-conditioned stadium scheduled to open 2020.

Ohtani has selected clubs with six newish ballparks and one with Wrigley Field.

Rangers advantage or disadvantage: Push

3. Minors and spring facilities

The Rangers can tell Ohtani that, should he need a rehab assignment, he can sleep in his own bed. Double A Frisco looms as a key component here, especially with the future of the Triple A affiliate in the air.

The Surprise Recreation Campus remains a gem in the Cactus League even though it isn’t as new as others. The problem the Rangers face is that Ohtani has trained the past two years with the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters in Arizona at the Padres’ spring home down Bell Road.

The Padres share the Peoria Sports Complex with another finalist, the Mariners. Seattle is in a similar spot as the Rangers in proximity to a minor-league affiliate, with Triple A Tacoma just down the road.

Rangers advantage or disadvantage: Advantage

4. Cultural assimilation to club’s home city

Dallas-Fort Worth will never be mistaken as Little Tokyo, and if market size does matter, the Rangers might be too big for Ohtani. Of course, DFW is smaller than Los Angeles and Chicago, so they have that going for them.

The greater Los Angeles area has the largest Japanese-American population in the U.S. outside of Honolulu, so the Dodgers and Angels have that going for them. Seattle and San Francisco are No. 3 and 4, according to the 2010 census.

The Rangers’ biggest selling point could be Yu Darvish, who has come to consider DFW his home away from home and feels such strong ties to Texas that he donated $100,000 to Hurricane Harvey relief.

Rangers advantage or disadvantage: Disadvantage

5. Fitting into the organization

The Rangers and Mariners come loaded with experience here, in terms of dealing with the media and making a Japanese player feel at ease.

A word or two from Darvish would help reinforce the Rangers’ case.

There is speculation that Ohtani doesn’t want to play on a team that already has a Japanese player. The Dodgers have Kenta Maeda and the Mariners have Hisashi Iwakuma, though only on a minor-league deal.

Rangers advantage or disadvantage: Advantage

6. Why club is desirable

Another advantage to the Rangers, who are coming off a losing season but have winning campaigns in seven of the past nine.

Included in that run are four division titles, a wild-card berth and a play-in game to get into the playoffs. The Rangers have a winning pedigree.

But the window, Ohtani could say, is closing. Some have seen it that way before, like after 2013 and 2014. The Rangers responded with back-to-back American League West titles.

The farm system appears to be nearly ripe, and if it isn’t by next off-season, a dream free-agent market could quickly reshape the roster.

The Dodgers and Cubs have the clear advantage here, but the Rangers look pretty shiny against the rest of the field.

And don’t dismiss their presence in Japan.

Rangers advantage or disadvantage: Advantage

7. Relevant marketplace characteristics

The Rangers play in the fifth-largest market in the U.S., but they could choose to focus in on Arlington and a few select mid-cities.

Arlington isn’t a small town, but it’s a nice middle ground for two bigger areas. A short drive north would put Ohtani in Colleyville, Southlake or Westlake, where luxury and privacy can be found.

Darvish, Elvis Andrus, Michael Young and Adrian Beltre could sell Ohtani on the finer neighborhoods in Dallas, and relay to him that midday traffic is a piece of cake.

Ohtani will rarely be cold in DFW, he won’t have to shovel snow, and soon he will be playing under a roof to protect him from any ugly elements.

No one can compete with San Diego, and only San Diego can whip Orange County in terms of ideal weather. But, oh, those houses aren’t cheap, and Texas is one of only two states among the finalists without state income tax.

Rangers advantage or disadvantage: Push

Presentations will be key. Scouting the past six years in Japan could become a factor. Money has to matters at some point, right? If so, no team can offer more than the Rangers’ $3.53 million.

Add it up, and the Rangers look to be an attractive fit for Ohtani. But no one really seems to know what Ohtani truly wants, and all seven finalists are only entering the starting blocks.

The sprint is about to begin.

Take a look on the progress of the Rangers' new home at Globe Life Field. Over the next four months, construction crews will move 1.3 million cubic yards of dirt. The process will take an estimated 97,000 truckloads. See what goes into the constru

Last year, the massive Enchant festival debuted at the Olympic Village in Vancouver, Canada. This year, the festival lands at Globe Life Park in Arlington. It starts Nov. 24 and ends Dec. 31.

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