I’d never been a part of anything like this, 20 or so reporters chasing after an athlete into a dark parking lot illuminated only by camera lights. Japanese baseball star Shohei Ohtani ducked into the passenger seat of a car and was driven away into the night. Reporters who were close to him said he told them, “Sumimasen,” which can mean, “Sorry,” or, “Excuse me,” depending on the context. A 23-year-old pitcher and power hitter, Ohtani made only his third pitching start of the season Tuesday night at the Sapporo Dome in front of representatives from 16 major league teams. The Dodgers had two scouts here. Seattle Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto was also in attendance. The next morning, a couple of media outlets reported Ohtani wanted to move from Japan to Major League Baseball in the upcoming offseason. The reports cited anonymous sources. I was told something simliar but was warned Ohtani could change his mind. It wouldn’t be the first time. Ohtani was set to come to the United States out of high school, only to reverse course at the last second. Major league teams are convinced Ohtani will be made available to them this winter, but some executives have wondered whether an agent could talk him into remaining in Japan for another two years. If Ohtani moves to the U.S. as a 25-year-old, he would be free to sign a contract of any length or value and could theoretically make more than $200 million. If he moves before then, he would be limited to a bonus of $300,000 to $10 million and would receive only a minor league contract. (Ohtani hasn’t named an agent; at least not publicly.) By signing with an American team this winter, Ohtani would be leaving a lot of money on the table but would still make out well financially. His image is on advertisements all over Japan, and a move to the U.S. could allow him to make tens of millions of dollars annually in endorsement deals.
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Japanese star Shohei Ohtani not talking about reports he wants to go to U.S. this offseason
Los Angeles Times | Sep 15