New York Yankees: Want Ohtani? Do Your Homework
Are Yankees chances of signing Ohtani hurt by having no manager in place?
Over the holiday weekend CAA Sports, the agents representing Japan’s Shohei Ohtani, handed out homework for all 30 MLB ball clubs to complete if they wished to lure their 23-year old client.
Considering that he is affordable to all teams due to bonus restrictions, the idea is to help Ohtani narrow things down to “a subset of clubs on which to focus.”
The actual letter, obtained by the LA Times, has seven “non-financial” questions for teams to answer:
- An evaluation of Shohei’s talent as a pitcher and/or a hitter;
- Player development, medical, training and player performance philosophies and capabilities;
- Major League, Minor League, and Spring Training facilities;
- Resources for Shohei’s cultural assimilation;
- A detailed plan for integrating Shohei into the organization;
- Why the city and franchise are a desirable place to play;
- Relevant marketplace characteristics.
After re-reading these, here are my thoughts on each of the seven respective questions.
Obviously a reasonable and necessary question, which any team in this sweepstakes should
have a detailed answer. This response should not be sugarcoated at all because the reality is
Ohtani has not faced MLB hitters or pitchers yet.
2. Player development and philosophies.
Player development would be high on my list if I were Ohtani, considering he is skipping the minor leagues. I would think focusing on top prospects coming up, and recently called up players would be a huge selling point.
The Yankees undoubtedly have a top 10 farm-system, along with a mega group of young talent that proved themselves to be for real this past season by missing the World Series by a game. This is a HUGE baseball selling point for any player coming into the Bronx.
Unfortunately, the Yankees have no manager and that would be a big problem for me as a player. Firing Joe Girardi after getting a team in a “rebuilding” season as far as he did in the playoffs would signal to me that something is off and nobody is talking about it.
I would speculate that all teams already have brochures on hand detailing all their franchises facilities.
Cultural assimilation is a personal thing. Regarding Ohtani, no one seems to report anything regarding what this kid likes outside of baseball. So trying to predict or sell him on whether he will like the culture of a location or not is absolutely ridiculous.
And regarding the language barrier, can anyone say translator? All Japanese players have personal translators that are literally glued to their hip, so cannot see any issue here.
Asking a team to detail how they will integrate a player into their organization that has yet to throw or hit a ball in the majors is ludicrous. It seems like this is a polite way of finding out which teams will allow Ohtani to both starting pitch and play right field.
With the Yankees in mind, I can guarantee you that will not happen unless GM Brain Cashman plans on kicking Aaron Judge off the team.
Yes, I said Cashman because again we are back to the no manager problem.
I truly believe that no one, not even Ohtani himself can know the answer to this until he decides or tells us what his likes are.
Even with Japanese culture in every metropolis in the USA, it is not going to be like home. So if Ohtani enjoys the sunny weather year-round, the Bronx is out. But maybe he prefers a hometown where he can walk to places instead of drive on his off-days, welcome to the Big Apple. Who knows?
This is again all about personal preference. Look, I am from NYC, born and breed in Manhattan, but I realize that my home is not everyone’s cup of tea.
New York has the biggest media market in the world, rivaled only at home by Los Angeles. So if Ohtani craves endorsement deals and celebrity status, unless his last name is James, Jeter or Jordan, my guess is he will stick to the one of the two costal cities.
Now lets say Ohtani wants a more low-key form of celebrity but still with endorsements, he would be most likely become a Red Sox, Cub or Ranger. Again, who knows?
So are the Yankees the favorites to sign Ohtani?
Whether the Yankees are the favorites or not is irrelevant because they have no skipper to lead this assignment.
Ohtani does have until December 23 to make a decision, but CAA’s Ned Balelo, who is leading the Ohtani team, asked for responses as soon as possible. So the Yankees better fill this managerial hole soon to assure there are no hiccups in signing him.
The bottom line here is nobody really knows this 23-year old Japanese sensation. So thinking about all 30 teams putting on a required show like this seems a little much.
To me it sounds like Ohtani wants assurance he will comfortably fit in, on a super successful team that has the nicest facilities possible, in city that will embrace him. And this my friend is easy to sell, but impossible to know.
Now please feel free to call me crazy, but after thinking extensively about the above, I am not so sure that Ohtani needs the Yankees, and vice-versa anymore.