The Shohei Ohtani Sweepstakes on Thursday saw a new team overtake the Texas Rangers for the largest payable bonus to the Japanese star, and the team just happened to be the presumed favorite to land him.
The Seattle Mariners added a cool $1 million in international slot space, not to mention All-Star speedster Dee Gordon to be their center fielder, in a deal with the Miami Marlins.
The difference isn’t very much. In baseball finances, it’s pocket change, but it’s enough to knock the Rangers out of the top spot. They have $3,535,000. The Mariners have $3,557,000 million.
It seems a stretch to believe that the man who is turning down perhaps as much as $200 million two years from now will be swayed by $22,000. At this time of year, maybe it’s just the thought that will count.
A few things to consider:
1. Maybe the seven finalists for Ohtani discovered that, yeah, money matters a little bit to him.
2. Maybe the Mariners were told to go get a couple million if they wanted to sign Ohtani. Maybe they were so discouraged by their meeting that they decided they needed to bolster their case. They have traded away two prospects in the past 24 hours to acquire $2 million, and also to tell Ohtani how serious they are about acquiring him.
3. The Rangers could retake the money lead. Asked Nov. 13 at the general managers meetings if the Rangers still had room to add, Jon Daniels said: “I believe there is still some ability, yeah.”
4. No one really knows how the Rangers stand, including the Rangers, no matter who says what on Twitter or elsewhere. Team Ohtani holds all the cards.
He has acted quickly since being posted, but he still has two weeks before absolutely must pick a team (10:59 p.m. Dec. 22). Who’s to say he doesn’t throw out the parachute and slow his pace? Or that he decides that there will be another round of talks with a smaller batch of teams in their city and at their ballpark?
A little thing called the winter meetings is set to begin Sunday in Orlando, Fla. If he wants to make hometown visits, he might be on hold until at least Dec. 15. Or maybe Friday and Saturday.
The thought is he wants a small market. Then why are teams in DFW, Los Angeles and Chicago among the finalists?
He wants a West Coast team. Then why are teams in DFW and Chicago among the finalists.
No one really knows, though it’s clear he wants spring training in Arizona.
5. This is kind of fun, isn’t it? Daniels didn’t look like he was having any fun Wednesday. Or that he had slept much and knew that he wasn’t going to sleep much.
The good news for the local media if Ohtani is to sign with the Rangers is that the Japanese media would return in full force. Those guys work every bit as hard as the rest of us, and they only have to cover one player.
But that one might player might only talk to them twice a week. Or once. And they have to write every day.
They are missed.
Right now, they are just as in the dark as everyone else.