A.J. Preller did not make a televised plea while hanging from the side of a building, as the New York Yankees’ Brian Cashman did, or struggle to contain his excitement in a podcast appearance, which was the case for Seattle’s Jerry Dipoto, but the Padres’ desire to sign Japanese star Shohei Ohtani is, officially, no secret. Preller fielded a question about Ohtani on Saturday, and in typical fashion, San Diego’s general manager did not elaborate much. “As a group, we’re prepared, and I think he’s a player that obviously we’ve scouted and have history with,” Preller, making his first public comments about Ohtani, told the Union-Tribune. “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. We’re kind of down the path of doing that work.” Ohtani, a 23-year-old with standout potential on both sides of the ball, became free to negotiate with major league teams Friday. For all of them, interest has existed for years. In an effort to whittle down the field, Ohtani’s agents at CAA recently sent a questionnaire to all 30 clubs. According to sources, the Padres responded within a few days with a detailed PowerPoint presentation in English and Japanese. Though the specifics of that pitch are unknown, San Diego’s selling points — ready availability of two-way opportunities, budding talent base, West Coast location, preexisting ties to Ohtani — seem obvious. For instance, executives Logan White and Acey Kohrogi were heavily involved in attempting to recruit Ohtani for the Los Angeles Dodgers when he was coming out of high school. Former reliever Takashi Saito, another member of San Diego’s front office, was represented by Ohtani’s agent, Point Loma native Nez Balelo. Many in the industry continue to believe Cashman and the Yankees are the favorites, but much remains to be seen. Ohtani, who will require a team to pay a $20 million release fee and a bonus no larger than $3.5 million, has until Dec. 22 to choose a club. If he is leaning one way, he has yet to provide the evidence.
Preller says Padres hopeful for invitation to meet with Shohei Ohtani
San Diego Union-Tribune | Dec 3