It’s down to just seven teams for the signature of Shohei Otani.
The 23-year-old Japanese star that can both pitch and hit is narrowing down his decision from seven teams: the Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners, Los Angeles Angels, San Diego Padres, Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants.
Otani was posted on Dec. 1 as all 30 MLB teams displayed some kind of interest in him.
It was clear to see why. The still-developing youngster has batted .286 with 48 home runs and 166 RBI in 403 games over five seasons with the Nippon Ham Fighters in Japan. On the mound, the right-hander posted a 42-15 record with a 2.52 ERA and 624 strikeouts.
The New York Yankees were expected to obtain Otani, but he quickly showed that it wasn’t about the biggest market or the East coast, as he turned down New York. Instead, it’s clear he wants to play out West given the teams remaining.
Two of those teams, the Angels and the Mariners, are working to sweeten the pot of their pitch to Otani.
Late on Wednesday night, both teams acquired $1 million in bonus international pool money from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for prospects to aid their pursuit of the Japanese star. The Twins were one of the teams in heavy pursuit of Otani, but he was not interested in heading to the Twin Cities.
Now the Angels and Mariners are among the leaders in bonus pool space behind only the Rangers:
Texas Rangers: $3.5 million
Seattle Mariners: $2.5 million
Los Angeles Angels: $2.3 million
San Diego padres: $300,000
Chicago Cubs: $300,000
Los Angeles Dodgers: $300,000
San Francisco Giants: $300,000
Otani has met with all seven teams already, listening to their pitches as to why he should sign with them. While there is no timetable for a decision, one can expect it to be made around the winter meetings, which begin on Dec. 10.