7. Rangers- The Rangers were announced as the only finalist, other than the Cubs, that aren’t a west coast team. I honestly don’t see much of a draw for Ohtani to go to Texas. They aren’t contenders, they aren’t on the coast, so I’m not really sure what they have to bring him in.
6. Angels- I consider the Angels as a dangerous dark horse. Logically, I want to say they are out, but I can’t help but say they have a chance. They have a decent lineup, and a horrendous pitching staff. Their biggest attraction, other than being in Los Angeles, is the ability to tell Ohtani that he can come and play with the best hitter in the world, Mike Trout. For this reason alone, you can’t count them out.
5. Dodgers- Honestly, the Dodgers should probably be higher on this list, but I really, really don’t want them to get Ohtani. In addition, they have a relatively crowded outfield and pitching staff, and I’m not sure where Ohtani’s at bats will come from unless they move someone. Essentially, I just don’t want the rich to get richer.
4. Cubs- Call it wishful thinking. The Cubs are this high on the list because they have Theo and a history of signing both Japanese and foreign players. Reports have said that the Cubs had a very creative pitch, and they are all in on Ohtani. The pitch got them in the door, and I have to have some level of confidence in Theo to bring it home. Also, they have said they’d be happy to let Shohei play outfield a couple days a week, my guess would be sandwich his start with off days and then let him start 2 games mid-week, maybe pinch hit on his 2 days off. Joe Maddon is the perfect mad scientist to make this work. Biggest problem is that the Cubs aren’t on the west coast. Guess we will have to see just how important that is to him.
3. Padres- The Padres have several connections to the Nippon-Ham Fighters, Ohtani’s Japanese club, that make them an interesting candidate. For the last 10 years, the Padres have had a close scouting relationship with the Fighters, where they would share information and reports back and forth. In addition, the Padres employ Hideo Nomo, a former Nippon-Ham player, and Seiichiro Nagasaki, a former trainer for the Fighters. The two teams working relationship just came to an end, so it will be interesting to see how that plays out.
2. Giants- The Giants have a quality team (assuming they bounce back from last season) and are in an extremely desirable location. They have a strong fan base, plenty of endorsement opportunities, yet they are just small enough that they won’t have Yankee-level problems. I honestly don’t see much of a drawback to signing with them. It would be a pretty good fit.
1, Mariners- The Mariners are at the top of my power rankings because of history. They have a strong Japanese culture in the city, and they have had Japanese stars come over and play for the Mariners. Ichiro loved it there, and he was absolutely adored by the city. More recently, Hisashi Iwakuma has had a fair amount of success, as well. Iwakuma recently signed a minor league contract with the Mariners, with a MLB camp invite, and with him being 37, it will be interesting to see if can make the big league squad and mentor Ohtani, if Ohtani chooses to sign in Seattle.
Ohtani has officially been posted, and he has until December 22nd to sign. I would think he will sign sooner, rather than later, given how many teams have already been eliminated from the hunt. I will be sure to keep you all posted as more information becomes available, and I have to say that I can’t wait to watch Shohei pitch, even if it isn’t with the Cubs.
Please follow me on twitter for more baseball news @ChiCubsCoverage.