The Shohei Ohtani decision may be coming soon and it looks the finalists for his services are doing all they can to sign him.
On Wednesday night, the Seattle Mariners struck on a deal with the Minnesota Twins, sending 2017 fifth-round draft pick David Banuelos to Minnesota for $1 million in international bonus allocations. Pegged as one of Ohtani’s seven finalists, the Mariners have long been connected to Ohtani and this was another step towards signing him.
Just minutes later, it was announced that the Los Angeles Angels sent their 2017 third-round pick Jacob Pearson to Minnesota, also acquiring $1 million in international cap space in the process. Unlike Seattle, the Angels had been operating more stealthily in regards to Ohtani until last week, when the club acquired $1.21 million of international money from the Atlanta Braves.
With Ohtani’s clear West Coast preference, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Angels and Mariners are making last-minute moves to sway decision-making. Given that both teams also have holes at first base and designated hitter, there could be a clear match for Ohtani to both pitch and hit with either of those teams.
With these trades, the Mariners now have $2.55 million in their international slot money, while the Angels have $2.315 million, according to Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. The Texas Rangers still lead the pack among the Ohtani finalists with $3.5 million. With this development, it’s fair to wonder if the American League teams hold a slight advantage, given that the Cubs, Dodgers, Giants and Padres are all capped at $300,000 in international spending money.
The Twins were not one of the seven finalists for Ohtani’s services so they exploited a market with teams desperate for international spending money. In return for giving up $2 million dollars of that money, they received two highly thought of prospects whom the organization can groom and develop. Banuelos is a strong defensive catcher who has shown an ability to get on base at the plate. Pearson is more of a project but he has some serious hitting tools and could be an everyday outfield option if his arm issues disappear.
All seven Ohtani finalists have met with the Japanese star and we’re probably getting close to a decision. With the moves the Angels and Mariners made on Wednesday night, it’ll make the end of this race all the more interesting. A decision is expected to be made within the next week and we can all collectively hold our breath as one of the best pitchers on the planet decides where he wants to play in 2018.