The Yankees’ pursuit of Shohei Ohtani is over before it started. Ohtani, the pitching and hitting sensation from Japan, has told the Yankees he will not sign with them.
General Manager Brian Cashman revealed the news to reporters Sunday night in Stamford, Conn., before his annual rappel down a building for the city’s Heights & Lights event. Cashman said Ohtani’s representatives had told him there was nothing the Yankees could do, because Ohtani prefers to play in a smaller market.
Cashman added that he would be excited if he were a team in a smaller market on the West Coast. So, not surprisingly, news quickly surfaced that the Boston Red Sox were also out of consideration. General Manager Dave Dombrowski told the Boston Globe that he had been informed that Ohtani would not play for the Red Sox.
The bidding for Ohtani is intriguing because of the restrictions on how much teams can pay. Because Ohtani is only 23, with just five years of professional experience, he is subject to baseball’s international bonus pool system, which limits him to a bonus of around $3.5 million and a rookie contract at the major league minimum of $545,000 next season.
The team that signs Ohtani must pay $20 million to his Japanese team, the Nippon-Ham Fighters. But the low cost for a potential two-way superstar — with six years of club control — makes Ohtani a consideration for nearly every team, though only American League teams could offer him a chance for regular work as a designated hitter.