The Miami Marlins, already involved in one of baseball’s primary offseason storylines by dangling NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton in trade talks, are not ready to thrust themselves into another. They are not expected to pursue Shohei Ohtani, the star pitcher/outfielder from Japan, in part due to the financial commitment signing him would require, according to several industry sources familiar with the Marlins’ thinking. Ohtani, 23, was officially made available to major league clubs by his team, the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, on Friday, marking the start of a free agency unlike any the sport has ever seen. A flamethrowing right-handed pitcher and power-hitting left-handed batter, Ohtani aspires to do both regularly in the majors, with a skill set that has earned him comparisons to Babe Ruth. What makes Ohtani’s availability unique is that his decision won’t simply be about money, putting big-budget teams like the Yankees and low-revenue teams like the Marlins on a more level playing field. Because Ohtani is a foreign player younger than 25, he is restricted to signing a minor league contract with a bonus from a team’s international bonus pool money, usually used to add teenagers from Latin America. The Rangers and Yankees, with around $3.5 million apiece, are able to offer the most. The Marlins are one of about seven teams the teams that could give Ohtani a seven-figure bonus. Ohtani and his Creative Artists Agency representatives, led by agent Nez Balelo, are expected to start visiting with teams in the coming days. If and when Ohtani is in the majors in 2018, he’ll make the major league minimum of $545,000 (and be on a normal six-year schedule to reach major league free agency, like any other rookie).
Marlins not expected to pursue Ohtani
Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel | Dec 2