Posted on December 4, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
After being officially posted on Friday, Japanese two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani hasn’t wasted much time in cutting down his list of suitors. As of Monday morning, Ohtani appears to be considering only seven teams. Ohtani appears to prefer to stay on the west coast, although there are a couple exceptions to that. Now that we know what teams have piques his interest, let’s break down the odds of each of the seven team’s still in the running for Ohtani.
Angels – 15%
Location-wise, the Angels may be a good fit for Ohtani. It’s on the west coast, but playing in Anaheim, they’re a little removed from the big-city atmosphere of Los Angeles. On the field, the DH spot is taken by Albert Pujols and center field is occupied by Mike Trout. The Angels would definitely welcome Ohtani in their rotation. But they’d have to shift some things around to fit him in the lineup on days he’s not pitching. That being said, the possibility of playing alongside stars like Trout, Pujols, and Justin Upton could sway Ohtani toward the Angels.
Cubs – 10%
Chicago is the furthest east Ohtani is willing to go. The team’s recent World Series victory, young core, and iconic Wrigley Field are no doubt huge selling points for the Cubs. They’re likely to sign a starting pitcher anyway, so Ohtani would fit right into their starting rotation. However, the Cubs would likely have to trade away an outfielder, possibly Ian Happ, Albert Almora Jr., or Jason Heyward, to help make room for Ohtani.
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Dodgers – 15%
The Dodgers have a good history with Japanese players, going back to Hideo Nomo. They also have a Japanese pitcher already in their rotation in Kenta Maeda, so there would be an instant comfort level for Ohtani. The Dodgers would also be able to move people around to accommodate Ohtani in center field. It also doesn’t hurt Los Angeles that they were one game away from a winning a World Series.
Giants – 20%
Assimilation is an important factor for Ohtani, and with San Francisco having one of the highest population of Japanese Americans in the country, that’s a huge selling point. Aside from location, the Giants were in the market for a center fielder anyway, so they should have no problem with him playing the field on days he doesn’t pitch. It’s also possible that Giancarlo Stanton decides whether or not to accept a trade to San Francisco before Ohtani decides on a team. That could impact Ohtani one way or another, but it would probably help the Giants.
Mariners – 25%
The Mariners have to be looked at as the favorite for Ohtani at this point. GM Jerry Dipoto has poured massive resources into trying to sign him. Seattle is taking this as seriously as any team and also has a great history with Japanese players. It’s safe to say that the Mariners will do whatever it takes to sign Ohtani.
Padres – 5%
The Padres would seem like an odd choice for Ohtani since they are at least a couple years away from being serious contenders. But San Diego is a west coast city that has great weather and is a little out of the spotlight. If he’s willing to wait a couple years before playing on a winning team and wants to help accelerate the team’s rebuilding process, Ohtani could lean toward the Padres. However, the Padres are definitely underdogs among the seven remaining teams.
Rangers – 10%
Texas is not on the west coast, so location is not in their favor. However, the Rangers can offer Ohtani the largest signing bonus, which could still make a difference. The Rangers also need him more than almost any other team. They have gaping holes in their rotation and no ideal choice in center field right now. There’s no doubt the Rangers are going to pull out all the stops in order to sign Ohtani.