Shohei Ohtani has become a household name in baseball over the past few months, but the Japanese two-way talent has been coveted by MLB teams for much, much longer.
The Seattle Mariners, for example, have spent at least the past 12 months preparing their sales pitch to Ohtani, according to general manager Jerry Dipoto.
“We want to sell the Seattle experience,” Dipoto said on Mariners podcast The Wheelhouse. “What it means to the Japanese-American, our culture and how this organization has trended — and trended so positively — when we have a star Japanese player. And make no mistake — this is a star Japanese player. He’s talented. He’s gifted. He’s going to make some team a lot better.”
Dipoto revealed that the Mariners have even put together a film that will be presented to the 23-year-old Ohtani. It appears to be a similar tactic to the one used by the Chicago Cubs when they pursued ace lefty Jon Lester in 2014.
“This is maybe the most unique circumstance in baseball that I can recall,” said Dipoto. “It is all about how you as a city, as an organization and as human beings appeal to an individual, rather than the final paycheck. In my lifetime, that’s really never been a thing.”
(H/T MLB Trade Rumors)
Getting the early jump
Dipoto has gained a well-earned reputation for being an aggressive GM on the transaction front, so it’s no surprise that he’s reportedly busy at a time when most clubs are in wait-and-see mode.
Jay, who spent this past season with the Chicago Cubs, can fill the role of fourth outfielder or platoon option. The 32-year-old left-handed hitter is among the slower runners in the league, but is well-regarded as a positive clubhouse presence.
He batted .296/.374/.375 with two home runs and 18 doubles in 433 plate appearances across 141 games for the Cubs in 2017.
Stanton holds all the power
The San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals have reportedly tried to acquire Giancarlo Stanton from the Miami Marlins, but it’s worth remembering this critical fact: The outfielder has a full no-trade clause.
It’s also worth noting, as ESPN’s Buster Olney did this week, that the Los Angeles Dodgers appear to be Stanton’s No. 1 choice.
The native of Panorama City, Calif., attended high school about 24 kilometres from Dodger Stadium and Olney writes that if Stanton wants to play for The Blue Crew, and no other club, he should flex his leverage and veto trades to all other destinations.
“This is why we negotiate deals like this,” an agent told Olney. “He was good enough for the Marlins to give him that contract, and to give him the no-trade protection. He should use it.”
Stanton, the reigning National League MVP, is owed $295 million over the next 10 years; his contract features an opt-out following the 2020 season.
The Dodgers seem to have “lukewarm interest” in Stanton, but would like to trim payroll this season and are usually averse to big-money, long-term deals, writes Olney.
Bullpen market gets warmer
The New York Mets are intent on bolstering their bullpen and have their eyes on several relievers, according to the New York Post.
Among those names are right-handers Bryan Shaw, Joe Smith and Addison Reed, as well as left-hander Mike Minor.
New York traded for A.J. Ramos in July and also features Jeurys Familia and Jerry Blevins in its bullpen.