Reds general manager Dick Williams was in Sapporo, Japan, on Wednesday for what may have been Shohei Ohtani’s final start in Nippon Professional Baseball.The Reds have a legitimate interest in pursuing Ohtani, according to front-office sources.

The biggest star in Japan and most intriguing prospect in the game, Ohtani is likely to be posted this year, meaning he will be able to sign with any team willing to give his team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, $20 million. He can then negotiate with his choice of team for anywhere from $300,000 to $10 million. The Reds have just $300,000 to spend on any individual international signing, according to MLB rules.

The fact that Ohtani is choosing to come to the United States this year suggests money won’t be the motivating factor in his choice of where to play. Under MLB’s international signing rules, the 23-year-old could have waited two years to come to the United States and sign with the highest bidder, effectively leaving hundreds of millions of dollars on the table to come to the United States now.

That gives the Reds a sliver of hope.

Under Williams, the Reds have expanded their scouting foothold in Asia, so dipping their toes in the Ohtani waters makes sense. However, Ohtani has been called “Japan’s Babe Ruth” and has expressed an interest in pitching and hitting in the United States, just as he has in Japan. That would be easier if he were to play for an American League team with the designated hitter.