Shohei Ohtani is a Japanese baseball player that has the Major League Baseball (MLB) world excited. There have been rumors of Ohtani coming over from Japan to play in the MLB a couple of times in the past two years, but none as serious and real as this off-season.
This off-season, the National League MVP and one of, if not the best, power hitters in baseball today, Giancarlo Stanton, is likely to be traded. The Miami Marlins are trading him to get rid of his ridiculous $295 million remaining on his contract. However, that is not the main topic of discussion for baseball analysts by any means.
The main topic of discussion is about Shohei Ohtani, and where he will end up. Ohtani is a rare and intriguing case because, in Japan, he pitches and hits at very high levels. This has not really been seen in the MLB besides Babe Ruth, and that is what analysts are referring to Ohtani as.
This has been an extremely interesting situation because at first, you would think a National League team would be perfect for him so he could both pitch and hit once every five days. Now, you have American League teams making the pitch for Ohtani to be their Designated Hitter (DH) on days he isn’t pitching.
Teams have been pitching their situation and how they would use Ohtani to him and his agents. Surprisingly, one of the first teams crossed off of the list were the New York Yankees. Ohtani said he wants to go to a small market team preferably on the west coast (this is the shortest travel distance from Japan).
Ohtani has narrowed the list of teams he wants to go to down to 7 teams. The list includes the Chicago Cubs, Texas Rangers, San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Angels and Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, and lastly, the Seattle Mariners.
Ohtani is meeting with teams this week down in Los Angeles before the winter meetings and seeing which team he sees as the best fit. The Seattle Mariners are said to be the favorite right now before meeting with any other team, and looking into it, the Mariners make great sense.
They are in a small market, on the west coast, and have a great history not only with the team and Japanese players but with the Japanese culture in the city of Seattle. Jerry Dipoto, the General Manager of the Seattle Mariners has specifically said they are extremely interested in Ohtani and have a plan for him.
Dipoto said their plan would be to use him in the starting pitching rotation and then on his off-days pitching he would DH, besides the day right before a start. This would move supreme DH Nelson Cruz into right field on the days Ohtani was hitting.
Although this takes away from some of the athletic young outfielders the Mariners could have out there, if Ohtani hits like some think he will, it could mean having Cruz and Ohtani in the lineup together among Segura, Cano, Seager, and others.
There is a lot of unknowns about Ohtani, but the ceiling is extremely high for the 23-year-old, and it will be interesting to see which MLB team he ends up on.