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Twins Strike Out On Ohtani

Shohei Ohtani is close to picking his first big league team. Unfortunately for Twins fans, that team won’t be in Minnesota. Ohtani, the Japanese two-way player, informed the Twins on Sunday that they had been eliminated from contention. Besides the Twins, the list of rejected teams included the Yankees, Red Sox, Athletics, Brewers, Pirates, Blue Jays, Diamondbacks and Mets.
Image courtesy of Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
At one point during Sunday afternoon, MLB Insider Jon Heyman had reported that Ohtani was “telling teams he prefers a smaller market.” This sounded great to Twins fans with a smaller market in the Midwest calling Ohtani’s name. Not very long afterward, he brought Twins Territory back down to earth:

Mike Beradino at the Pioneer Press reported that Ohtani and Nex Balelo, his agent, didn’t give any reason as to why the Twins had been eliminated. According to him, they told the Twins they were “very appreciative of the interest and the pitch.”

Ohtani is meeting with teams in Los Angeles and his finalists include a lot of West Coast teams. This includes the Seattle Mariners, San Francisco Giants, San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels. Another team like the Chicago Cubs or Texas Rangers could sweep in and get him but he seems destined for the West Coast.

During the 2017 campaign, Ohtani fought through a quadriceps and ankle injury. However in 2016, he slashed .322/.416/.588 with 22 home runs. On the mound, he was even more impressive with a 1.86 ERA including 174 strikeouts in 140 innings.

The Twins struck out on Ohtani so now maybe the focus can turn to signing a different frontline starter like Ohtani’s countryman Yu Darvish.

Were you disappointed with the news? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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68 Comments

 

And temps in Minnesota in January are a factor why? Maybe temps in April and October would be, but not sure how January is relevant unless he intends to take up permanent residence wherever he signs.

 

He will spend at least 2-3 weeks there in January between the winter caravan and Twinsfest

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ashburyjohn
Dec 04 2017 09:03 AM

He will spend at least 2-3 weeks there in January between the winter caravan and Twinsfest

Doing what, taunting fans that he won't be signing with us? :)

    • Blake, nicksaviking, SF Twins Fan and 1 other like this

If I had the opportunity to live in San Diego, or San Francisco, I'd take it.

    • Steve Lein, Thrylos, Twins33 and 3 others like this

I'd be more disappointed if I was a fan of the only West Coast team *cough* Oakland *cough* left off of his wish list. 

 

Ohtani to Minnesota is as much of a pipe dream as going on a date with Scarlett Johansson, or Brad Pitt. Whatever floats your boat! 

    • nicksaviking, spinowner and Dave The Dastardly like this

So based off everything we have learned this morning, I think it sounds like he is going to Seattle. They have like $1.5 million in bonus money to offer him plus they could trade for more. Seattle has a large Japanese population. And Seattle has a young roster and completed for most of the year last year. 

I think all the other top 7 teams have less that $500,000 to offer. 

Here are Seattle top five prospects, including one who comes in the top 100 on MLB.com

 

Kyle Lewis OF (46 on top 100), Nick Neidert P, Evan White 1B, Sam Carlson P, and Braden BIshop OF. 

 

Could the Twins trade $3 million in international bonus money for Evan White or Sam Carlson. That sounds like a good deal to me. 

    • Twins33, Cory Engelhardt and laloesch like this

Bob Nightengale

@BNightengale
Several #MLB GMs now believe that the Seattle #Mariners are the clear-cut front runners for Ohtani's services and the Mariners are cautiously optimistic

Sour grapes aside, if I was him, Seattle, San Diego, and San Francisco would be no-brainers.  For a guy who lives on an island, being near the ocean would probably be a plus.  And fresh fish.  I don't know about Minnesota, but the difference in sushi between Seattle and Michigan is astronomically huge.

 

 

    • dgwills likes this
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Dance with Disco Dan
Dec 04 2017 10:10 AM

 

The Braves cheating could be tailor made for the Twins who have a lot more International money remaining than only a couple teams.Let's get their top guy or maybe a couple of the top four or five.

 

When the report about the Braves' cheating scandal broke so shortly after the Twins pulled their offer to Marte, I wondered if their was serious speculation in front offices that the Braves' signees would be cut loose and whether Falvine was playing a hunch. I never held out much hope for Ohtani and I am excited that the Twins can be real players for the former Braves. My only question is whether the advisors of those players will have them wait until the next international signing period so that there is a full complement of international pool funds competing for their services.

 

It is hard to predict because, on the one hand, it seems to me that the players would want to start their careers sooner than later and they'll still be getting a windfall with a second signing bonus. On the other hand, they can expect bigger bonuses if they wait until every team has their full allotment. My guess is that the premium players will wait (unless they receive full value -- i.e. what the Braves paid) and the lesser talents will sign this year.  

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Winston Smith
Dec 04 2017 10:10 AM

But, but the Twins have the inside track on players coming over from Norway and Sweden. Who wants sushi when you can get lutefisk?

    • nicksaviking, Danchat, Don Walcott and 1 other like this

 

Bob Nightengale

@BNightengale
Several #MLB GMs now believe that the Seattle #Mariners are the clear-cut front runners for Ohtani's services and the Mariners are cautiously optimistic

Hmm, I wonder if the fact Ichiro spent all that time in Seattle had anything to do with Ohtani presumably signing with Seattle?

    • Jerr and gunnarthor like this
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Don Walcott
Dec 04 2017 11:06 AM

I remember getting the "Ichiroll" when I was at Safeco about 10 years ago. I wonder if they have already offered to serve "Shoheirolls."

 

Seattle makes a lot of sense for Ohtani as a city in which he'd be able to assimilate. But I'd still prefer a bit more sunshine if it were me.

I don't think any team that is left needs extra international money. Sounds like it was reported some place that he basically already has $20M in endorsements at the moment. And if he has narrowed his choices down to 7 already he has it down really to 2 or 3 teams.

 

It wold have to be an American League Team so he can DH when he doesn't pitch. Nelson Cruz was Seattle's DH 147 games last season. He is just under contract for 2018 so that would be a fit.

 

Give Seattle a call and offer them $2M for a MLB ready player or 2.

 

I'd be more disappointed if I was a fan of the only West Coast team *cough* Oakland *cough* left off of his wish list. 

 

Ohtani to Minnesota is as much of a pipe dream as going on a date with Scarlett Johansson, or Brad Pitt. Whatever floats your boat! 

Except that you have a better idea of what you're getting with Johansson and Pitt. No guarantees that Ohtani is as good as advertised. I think he's worth the price for any MLB team to take that risk and he's worth it if he's an average starter, but if that's all he is, we can't be that disappointed.

 

Hmm, I wonder if the fact Ichiro spent all that time in Seattle had anything to do with Ohtani presumably signing with Seattle?

 

When Ichiro was in Seattle, the Mariners' owner was a Japanese company.This was true until last year.Now they just have 10% of the Mariners. Not sure how much that has to do with anything

It would have been fun to have the national and international spotlight on the team, but I'll lose no sleep over missing out. I'd rather the Twins pursue more "sure thing" sorts of talent anyway.

 

Hmm, I wonder if the fact Ichiro spent all that time in Seattle had anything to do with Ohtani presumably signing with Seattle?

I was actually going to say the same-maybe even the Mariners bring back Ichiro for another part time year to help the transition. 

    • Blake likes this

I have a series of questions here:

 

1. Does Ohtani really believe he can be a starting pitcher and hitter in MLB?

All of the reporting seems to think does.

 

2. If he does, then what does he think that might look like?

Everyone has been suggesting an American League team where he can be a starting pitching in a five man rotation and also be a DH on some days in between his starts. I have seen few to none suggest that he could be a starting pitcher and then also play in the outfield and hit in between starts, which he could do in theory for either an AL or NL team.

 

3. Where does Ohtani's desire to pitch and hit fall on his list of priorities when choosing a team?

It looks to me like he is prioritizing geography over the opportunity to play both ways. Five of the seven teams he's meeting with are on the west coast, and only two of those five are American League teams. 

 

4. Of the seven teams, which are willing to give him the opportunity to pitch and hit?

 

5. Of those teams, which are willing to give him that opportunity in MLB vs which would want him to demonstrate success in the minor leagues first?

 

Here's what I think: 

 

If Ohtani believes he can do it and wants to do it, good for him. As an athlete you should believe you can do whatever you want and you should do everything in your power to achieve it. But what is possible? 

 

A) Ohtani signs with an NL team and achieves success as a starting pitcher in MLB and he collects his 2-3 plate appearances per start with which he has better than average success relative to other starting pitchers in the NL (possibly the most success relative to other starting pitchers in the NL). This seems very possible.

 

B) He signs with an AL team and achieves success as a starting pitcher and never has a plate appearance against an AL opponent. This seems very possible. 

 

C) He signs with an NL team and he achieves success as a starting pitcher and also achieves success as an outfielder and hitter on days in between starts. This, in my opinion, is 100% impossible. I don't think any of the teams listed would be foolish enough to even let him attempt this at double A. Definitely not the Giants, Dodgers, or Cubs. It would have to take an organization with a history and present of futility to gamble on something so insane. Maybe the Padres fit that description. 

 

D) He signs with an AL team and achieves success as a starting pitcher and also as an outfielder/DH in between starts. Again, 100% impossible on the OF front, and 99.9% impossible on the DH front.

 

E) He signs AL and achieves success as an SP. He also is given the opportunity to DH, but fails to have success. This scenario still seem unlikely to me, but I wouldn't be totally shocked to see this from the Angels, though I would from the Rangers. The team that seems the most likely to enable this scenario is the Mariners. Of all of these teams, the Mariners are the team with the history of the most incompetence and futility. They make crazy choices and bad signings all the time. They seem to have the most proclivity for making big expensive splashes with least amount of relative success.

 

In combination with what seems to be an evident west coast preference, Ohtani's presumed insistence on being given the chance to be a hitter, it seems to me that the Mariners are the most likely team to sign him. In which case it will be interesting to watch in a 'it doesn't really matter because its the Mariners' kind of way.

 

As it all relates to the Twins, it would be interesting to know what pitch they gave him. Were Falvine pitching him the idea that he could come right to the active roster and pitch and DH? Were they telling him he could come right to the team if he was willing to give up hitting, but would give him the chance to prove he could do both if he'd accept a double A assignment to start? Were they willing to give him the chance to hit because they valued his arm so much and viewed letting him try to hit for a short time as a worthy sacrifice for having his arm long term? And what does Molitor think about it all? It's really hard to imagine an all time great hitter like Paul Molitor being open to letting a pitcher also DH. Would Falvine have promised Ohtani the chance to do both knowing that Molitor would never do it? 

 

It sounds like he could be great on the mound, and that would definitely help the Twins in a way that would be hard not to get excited about, but a part of me is also glad that we're not going to be a part of what I think is shaping up to be a silly $#!& show, especially in a season where the team should be intensely focused on taking a step forward. While the ceiling may be very high for Ohtani as a SP, it seems like there's also an extremely high risk for a big ugly mess with the front office and the manager, and even if the financial risk isn't significant, I'm content to have avoided it.

 

Here's a one other scenarios just because:

 

F) Regardless where he signs, he either fails as an SP or gets injured forcing him to give up pitching in MLB, which case he either returns to Japan, or refocuses on hitting only. This scenario is mainly about asking whether or not Ohtani would be a success in MLB as a position player/hitter only. I would say that there really isn't enough evidence to say one way or another. The best you can say is maybe. His sample size of success at the plate in Japan is so small and the tool ratings as a pos player/hitter just seem far less assured than as a pitcher. I think teams and evaluaters have a much better handle on evaluating the pitchers from the Asian leagues than they do hitters. There are just so few examples of successful transitions for hitters compared to pitchers. Off the top of my head, I can count them on one hand. Ichiro, Matsui, and Choo- you could add Kenji Jojima, Nori Aoki, and maybe a couple others to that list if you want to talk about guys who can be said to have had a career in the MLB, but Ichiro, Matsui, and Choo are the impact guys- that might be stretching it for Choo. And as amazing of a career as Ichiro has had, he's kind of a novelty at the plate. No one else in the league has used his approach/style of hitting for decades, maybe since Rod Carew. He's like a knuckleballer of hitters. So, really, maybe the list is a list of one: Matsui, and Matsui is arguably the best hitter from Japan ever. 

 

 

 

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nicksaviking
Dec 04 2017 02:05 PM

The Mariners don't seem to be a very well run team as of late. So I guess if an AL team was going to get him, let him go to a place I don't view as competent enough to win.

 

It was a long shot, I did keep some hopes based on all the various reports that Minnesota was a possibility but I kept those hopes in check so this is still rather emotionless news to me. Doesn't change much, I still think the Twins need to sign one big free agent arm and trade for another. And absolutely nothing has happened league-wide this year which kind of indicates most teams aren't feeling overly motivated. Could be a good year for the Twins to do the unconventional.

 

Also, let's go get a handful of those now free agent former Braves prospects.

 

 

Off the top of my head, I can count them on one hand. Ichiro, Matsui, and Choo- you could add Kenji Jojima, Nori Aoki, and maybe a couple others to that list if you want to talk about guys who can be said to have had a career in the MLB, but Ichiro, Matsui, and Choo are the impact guys- that might be stretching it for Choo. And as amazing of a career as Ichiro has had, he's kind of a novelty at the plate. No one else in the league has used his approach/style of hitting for decades, maybe since Rod Carew. He's like a knuckleballer of hitters. So, really, maybe the list is a list of one: Matsui, and Matsui is arguably the best hitter from Japan ever. 

 

Not that I disagree re: Otani's prospects as a two-way player, but you got to add Eric Thames to the list of the people who were good in Asian leagues and continued so in the majors 

I can't quote a post from my phone, but in regard to the Braves prospects and pool money. Teams can choose which years pool money to use for the released prospects so all the offers that would be avalible in July are avalible right now.

This is the second time this year the Twins missed out/passed on a two-way phenom, 3 if you count McKay.  I had gotten myself excited about the possibility, but now that it has passed, I find myself agreeing with those that are glad to avoid the dog and pony show.

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Dave The Dastardly
Dec 04 2017 06:04 PM

 

Sour grapes aside, if I was him, Seattle, San Diego, and San Francisco would be no-brainers.  For a guy who lives on an island, being near the ocean would probably be a plus.  And fresh fish.  I don't know about Minnesota, but the difference in sushi between Seattle and Michigan is astronomically huge.

Yeah, but we got walleye.

    • USAFChief and Vanimal46 like this

Asia just isn't Twins territory - whiffed on Ohtani, Park, and Nishioka. Wouldn't be surprised if their handling on Nishi wasn't a turn off to Ohtani.

 

Compare that to Japanese players on the Dodgers, Seattle, Texas. Granted, much better players, but still.

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puckstopper1
Dec 04 2017 07:43 PM

I stated a few days ago that the Twins chances of signing Ohtani were slim and none.Unfortunately I was right.

 

At least he eliminated the Yankees and Red Sox also.

 

I stated a few days ago that the Twins chances of signing Ohtani were slim and none.Unfortunately I was right.

 

At least he eliminated the Yankees and Red Sox also.

It was always obvious that was the case, especially if you removed the word slim.


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