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Padres could be favorite for Shohei Ohtani

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  • Padres could be favorite for Shohei Ohtani

    This could be interesting


    For months, Padres officials have privately suggested the same thing many people outside the organization speculated: that San Diego is a long shot to sign Japanese megastar Shohei Ohtani.

    If that was misdirection, they did a masterful job.

    The Padres, sources confirmed Sunday night, are one of seven finalists in a sweepstakes that has kept even semi-informed observers guessing from the start. San Diego, Seattle, San Francisco, both Los Angeles teams, Texas and the Chicago Cubs have been invited to meet with Ohtani and his representatives beginning this week in Los Angeles. The Giantsreportedly are up first.

    Now that Ohtani has trimmed his list from almost 30 to a handful, the speculation has reached a new level. Some think the enigmatic 23-year-old already knows where he wants to play. And more and more people on both sides of the Pacific Ocean think that place might very well be San Diego.
    Sunday night in Stamford, Conn., New York Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman dropped a bombshell that surprised the entire sport, even some in the Padres organization. Ohtani, Cashman told reporters, had eliminated the Yankees, long thought to be a front-runner, from contention.

    “I know that our presentation was excellent,” Cashman said. “The feedback from that was outstanding. But I did get a sense that I can’t change that we’re a big market and I can’t change we’re in the East.”

    San Diego, of course, represents maybe the starkest contrast to New York. Ohtani’s list of finalists reinforces his preferences.

    But the other suitors might face larger obstacles.
    The Padres, not expected to contend for at least another season, could give Ohtani what the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters afforded him. A half-decade ago, Japan’s best teenage talent was convinced to stay by one of that country’s less prominent teams. The Fighters, knowing how strongly Ohtani desired to test himself in the U.S., pitched him on playing both ways. Ohtani proceeded to do that with unprecedented success, and now would like to continue exploring his two-way potential in the majors.

    The non-San Diego finalists are presently constructed to win more games in 2018. If Ohtani is hitting, say, .215 in June, a contending team might propose it’s better for him to focus on pitching. Meanwhile, the Padres, who’ve carried three Rule 5 draftees and auditioned a catcher as a reliever, should not have the same problem.

    Should the topic of a winning environment come up, the Padres can tout their farm system, one of the best in the game. Ownership is hopeful for a playoff berth by 2020. (Acquiring a player of Ohtani’s caliber would help.)

    Communicating such factors to Ohtani should be relatively easy. The Padres’ ties here have been well-documented. Several employees are either revered in Japan or have personal relationships with Ohtani, such as ex-Fighters trainer Seiichiro Nakagaki. Ohtani is already familiar with the Padres’ spring training site at the Peoria Sports Complex, where the Fighters held a portion of their preseason preparation each of the last two years.

    For now, even after the field has shrunk, much remains unknown. Little to no substantial clues have leaked from Ohtani’s camp, and General Manager A.J. Preller has publicly commented on his pursuit only once, when the Union-Tribune posed a question Saturday.

    “As a group, we’re prepared, and I think he’s a player that obviously we’ve scouted and have history with,” Preller said. “You try to see what the fits are and why he’s a good fit for us and why we’re a good fit for him.”

    The Padres, favorite or not, certainly have done their homework.


    The Padres could be the surprising favorite to sign Japanese star Shohei Ohtani.

  • #2
    Bummer we came so close. How do you guys feel about Hosmer? Preller might be signing him soon. I'd like a good lefty bat added to the line up. and Hosmer is still only 27 I believe.
    For Stinky-Jon-Wizzleteats....

    "Pray for strength and healing oh and money!"

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