For years, the hype around Shohei Ohtani alone made it highly unlikely he’d ever end up a member of the Cincinnati Reds. As the two-way superstar emerged as a dominant force both on the mound and at the plate in Japan, it became easy to assume that when he ultimately made his way to the US and MLB, some team famous for doling out big bucks would do just that, rendering the Reds again mere spectators of the top end of the free agent market.
Ohtani, though, did what he’s so often done on the field to that very market when he opted to be posted now, at age 23, falling under much more restrictive financial signing conditions. That curveball - that dollars alone wouldn’t be the deciding factor on where he landed - gave a glimmer of hope to the Reds, though it still seemed quite the longshot that he’d sign with Cincinnati.
As it turns out, that’s now a no-shot, as multiple outlets have reported that Ohtani’s camp has narrowed his choices down to just seven teams, and the Reds didn’t make that cut.
It’s a group consisting of a heavy West Coast flavor, with the Mariners, Giants, Dodgers, Padres, Angels, Rangers, and Cubs the lone clubs still in the running. Even the Rangers and Cubs, who obviously aren’t on the West Coast, have their spring training facilities in the Phoenix area, and it’s been mentioned repeatedly that Ohtani’s time spent training at the Padres/Mariners facility in Peoria, AZ was something he specifically valued - though Goodyear, AZ, obviously wasn’t enough of a selling point.
Also of note: while the Reds could only offer a signing bonus of $300K due to their previous forays into the international signing market in recent years, that’s the same max bonus that the Cubs, Dodgers, Padres, and Giants have available, too. Ohtani’s camp has hinted that his marketability and endorsement potential will be enough to make this move financially significant beyond how much MLB bonus money he receives, and this development certainly seems to emphasize that point, too.
Dick Williams and the Reds front office haven’t yet remarked on this development, and who knows if they will. It can safely be said, however, that their interest in Ohtani was certainly sincere, as it well should have been. Whether or not it was simply a unique chance to sign a singularly brilliant talent or a sign that the Reds are now actively seeking another bat and top of the rotation talent remains to be seen, too, though with MLB’s Winter Meetings just a week away we might find out more about that sooner than later.