As the MLB off-season rolls along rather quietly, all eyes in the baseball world have been focused on where Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani will end up playing next season. The 23-year-old pitcher/outfielder will soon be courted by all 30 major league clubs and Reds’ General Manager Dick Williams believes they have a shot to sign him, as C. Trent Rosecrans reported yesterday. Part of this courtship required teams to fill out a questionnaire that evaluated his strength, a description of the team’s training facilities, and other factors that would show why their club might be the best fit. The Reds apparently continued their pursuit of Ohtani by submitting their response today.
Source: #Reds have submitted a formal reply to the Shohei Ohtani questionnaire, along with other recruitment materials, and are pursuing the Japanese star. @ctrent reported yesterday that GM Dick Williams says team has “serious interest” in Ohtani. @MLB @MLBNetwork— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) November 29, 2017
While it might be exciting to know that the Reds are seriously pursuing one of the best international players on the market, it also shouldn’t be that surprising. Due to the unique circumstances surrounding Ohtani’s free agency, he is undoubtedly the best bargain on the market. Ohtani, who’s rights are owned by the Nippon-Ham Fighters, will enter Major League Baseball through the posting system instead of as an unrestricted free agent. This means that, as outlined in more detail in Rosecran’s article, he will be subject to each club’s international bonus pool instead of the $200 million he could have signed for if he had waited 2 years come to the states. While the Rangers ($3.535M) and Yankees ($3.5M) have the most money to offer as a signing bonus, the Reds only have $300K to offer due to over-spending on international prospects in previous years. Ohtani would then sign a minor-league contract and make a league-minimum salary for his first three years in the majors, just like any other prospect. All 30 clubs will vote on a new posting system on Friday, and it is expected that he will be posted after that.
The Reds still seem like a long-shot to sign Ohtani, but the good news for them is that his signing doesn’t seem to be based on money. He would have waited until he was 25 if that were the case. He still has to be convinced to come to Cincinnati, and while that may seem like a tall task for the Reds, Dick Williams thinks he can shock the baseball world and lock him down. After all, this wouldn’t be the first time the Reds have come out of nowhere to sign a major international prospect.