Texas Rangers: Rangers and Ohtani Have Meeting in LA

TOKYO, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 12: Shohei Ohtani
TOKYO, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 12: Shohei Ohtani /

Shohei Ohtani is the prize of the offseason, and the Texas Rangers find themselves as a finalist for his services. The Rangers met with Ohtani’s camp on Tuesday in Los Angeles. 

The Texas Rangers’ highest priorities this offseason go hand in hand: restocking the pitching staff and signing Japanese star Shohei Ohtani. The Rangers have invested a lot of time and resources on scouting Ohtani in Japan. It’s no secret that the Rangers are all in on bringing the “Japanese Babe Ruth” to Texas.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported late Monday night that the Rangers had a meeting set with Ohtani and his agent Nez Balelo. The Rangers’ presentation was spearheaded by co-owner Ray Davis, general manager Jon Daniels, and manager Jeff Banister. Assistant GM Josh Boyd, who has made many trips to Japan, and Japanese scouts Hajime Watabe and Joe Furukawa were also in attendance Tuesday afternoon.

Ohtani’s meeting with the Texas Rangers was one of three meetings on Tuesday. He also met with the Chicago Cubs and the Seattle Mariners. On Monday, he met with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels, and the San Francisco Giants. He plans to meet with the San Diego Padres on Wednesday. Ohtani has until December 22nd to make a decision.

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When Ohtani agrees to terms with a team, he will sign a Minor-League contract. In turn, the team will purchase that contract and Ohtani’s 2018 salary will be the league minimum at $545,000. The Rangers have the most amount of money to offer as a signing bonus from their international pool. They have $3.53 million at their disposal. Seattle’s $1.5 million is the second highest amount of the teams Ohtani is meeting with.

Money isn’t everything to Ohtani. Reports surfaced as Ohtani’s camp told certain clubs, including the New York Yankees, that he will not negotiate with them. Ohtani has an affinity for the west coast and a smaller market. This led him and his camp to immediately tell 23 teams they will not negotiate with them. Five of the seven teams Ohtani chose are west coast teams, and four of them would be considered “small market.”

The Texas Rangers are holding off on making any big acquisitions so they can focus on wooing Ohtani to Arlington. The Winter Meetings are next week in Orlando, and some think that Ohtani may make his decision by then. Obviously for the Rangers and any of the other clubs would like Ohtani to make his decision sooner rather than later.

The Winter Meetings are usually the time of year when free agents are plucked left and right and a team like the Rangers would like to take advantage of those meetings in case they don’t land Ohtani. The Rangers clear top priority is Ohtani and his unique services, being a rare two-way player.

Jeff Banister could play a large role in landing Ohtani. Another criterion of Ohtani’s requests is having the chance to pitch and bat, at least on a part-time basis. American League teams like the Texas Rangers hold an advantage having the DH spot in the lineup. Ohtani could then hit as the designated hitter on his off days in between starts on the mound. If Banister can convince Ohtani that he’d get plenty of opportunities to hit, that could be vital in swaying Ohtani.

After everything the Rangers have done to land Ohtani, it would be very rewarding if he comes to Texas. If the Rangers don’t land Ohtani, it won’t be for a lack of trying. The Rangers have their hands in plenty of other camps, whether Ohtani comes to Arlington or not. If they could land him though, it could potentially thrust the Rangers back into contention.