It’s official: The Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes has begun. He’s been posted by his Japanese team, effective Friday afternoon, and now all 30 teams will have a chance to sign the man known as “the Japanese Babe Ruth.”
The Ohtani sweepstakes will an interesting one because of its limitations. He’s not a true free agent because he’s under 25 and thus, his free agency falls under the limits of MLB’s international spending rules. Under normal circumstances, he might be worth upward of $200 million, considering his age (23) and talent (he’s a two-way star who can throw 100 mph and hit bombs), but that won’t be the case here.
The team that can spend the most money on him is the Texas Rangers, who have $3.5 million left in their coffers for this season. The New York Yankees and Minnesota Twins each have more than $3 million. The Pittsburgh Pirates have $2.2 million, the Miami Marlins have $1.7 million, the Seattle Mariners have $1.5 million and the Los Angeles Angels just picked up roughly $1.3 million after acquiring cash in their deal for Jim Johnson. You can see the entire list here.
So this isn’t about the money for Ohtani. The money, in the grand scheme of things, is negligible. If he’ll leave $200 million on the table, he’s not going to pass over a team he wants to join because of $2 million. This is about the pitch. His agent sent out a questionnaire to all 30 teams in late November, asking for their takes on Ohtani’s two-ways talents, how they approach player development and medicine and how they’ll help Ohtani assimilate to MLB, among other things.
That made us think that, with the Ohtani sweepstakes beginning, we should think of pitches for all 30 teams. Ohtani’s camp was probably looking for serious, thoughtful answers. We can’t promise those — but we did dream some *interesting* pitches for each team.
Angels: “Hear us out here. We might be in Anaheim, not L.A, but you wouldn’t have to pitch to Mike Trout. Sounds good, right?”
Astros: “We won the World Series. And, don’t worry, we won’t make you hang out with Yuli Gurriel.”
Athletics: “So there was a movie about us. ‘Moneyball’ — maybe you’ve heard of it. Let’s make a sequel starring you.”
Brewers: “Many teams can offer you many things, Mr. Ohtani, but nobody has the two things we can offer you: Bob Uecker and racing sausages. Go ahead, find a better racing food, we dare you.”
Blue Jays: “We’ve brought in Marcus Stroman’s dad, Earl, to make our pitch. Take it away, Earl.”
Earl Stroman: “It would please me if you signed with the Blue Jays.”
Friendly reminder that the father of Marcus Stroman can probably rip your arms right off your body if he felt like it. pic.twitter.com/eFv6KekQnS
— Mike Oz (@mikeoz) March 23, 2017
Braves: “We can promise you that of all the international prospects we signed in 2017 [looks around nervously] we’ll give you the most attention.”
Cardinals: “A lot of people will you tell you a lot of things about our fanbase, but if you play well, there’s no city that will love you longer than St. Louis would.”
Cubs: “Gaze into the Kris Bryant’s eyes and say ‘I want to play for the Cubs’ three times in a row. The truth will become clear to you.”
Diamondbacks: “Zack Greinke might give you some brutally honest pitching advice, but you could respond in kind with tips at the plate.”
Dodgers: “If you want to win the Rookie of the Year, we’ve won a lot of those. If you want to be near Hollywood, we can offer that. And if you want a crazy hair style, Yasiel Puig can help with that.”
Giants: “If we don’t have a left fielder by March and you sign with this us, we might be REALLY into this two-way player idea.”
Indians: “If you play for the Indians, our manager Terry Francona might occasionally share his secret ice cream stash with you.”
Marlins: “If you haven’t kept up with the latest ownership news in MLB, Derek Jeter is now our owner and you have his personal promise that he won’t fire or trade you for at least two seasons.”
Mets: “We haven’t had a single pitcher get injured in the offseasson yet.”
Nationals: “Bryce Harper will teach you everything you need to know be a cool American — the slang, the hairstyles, the bat flips.”
Orioles: “We hear you like home runs. We also like home runs. Let’s all hit some home runs.”
Padres: “We tried to create a two-way player last year. It didn’t work out, but you know we sympathize with your cause. Really, we’ll let you play any position you want, whenever you want. Just come to San Diego, please!”
Phillies: “We think you’ll love our offer, Shohei. We’ve talked to Boyz II Men and they’ll change the name of ‘Motownphilly’ to ‘MotownShohei’ if you sign with the Phillies.”
Pirates: “Because we know what 23-year-olds really want — Trevor Williams will teach you how to be good at Twitter.”
Dear Mr. Ohtani,
You would be a great fit for the Pittsburgh Pirates! We have IC Light, Primanti Bros, pierogi races, and average to above average jokes in the clubhouse.
Yinz (?) will love it here in the 412.
— Trevor Williams (@MeLlamoTrevor) November 29, 2017
Waiting for Ohtani to respond to my letter. pic.twitter.com/21wasGwCDf
— Trevor Williams (@MeLlamoTrevor) December 1, 2017
Rangers: “We’ve got the most money to offer you! We’ve got more money than any other team! Do you like money? Because we’ve got money. Money, money, money, money!”
Rays: “We offer you the rare opportunity to hit fly balls off our roof. The Dodgers and Yankees can’t give you that, can they?”
Reds: “Billy Hamilton said he’d let you beat him in a race around the bases.”
Red Sox: “We have two Cy Young winners and Chris Sale in our rotation, and Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi and Jackie Bradley Jr. in the lineup. You’re in good company either way.”
Rockies: “Shohei, you’ve probably heard that Coors Field isn’t the best park for pitchers. However, we have a compelling counterpoint: It IS the best park for hitters.”
Royals: “With Lorenzo Cain leaving in free agency, we know Salvador Perez is going to need a new best friend. We think you’re perfect for that. Oh, and you’re good at baseball too.”
Tigers: “How would you like free Little Caesars pizza for life?”
Twins: “Did you hear what our team president said about you an interview? ‘I think we’d let him do whatever he damn well pleases to come to Minnesota.’ Shohei, we’ll make your wildest dreams come true.”
White Sox: “Come join the best farm system in baseball.”
Yankees: “It’s a simple question really: Would you rather play on the most successful team in MLB history in the biggest media market in the country or would you rather have to face Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez?”
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