Now that Major League Baseball, the Major League Baseball Players Association and Nippon Pro Baseball have completed an extension of the agreement allowing NPB players to be “posted” to play in MLB, the pursuit of Japanese star pitcher/hitter Shohei Ohtani should switch into high gear.
Over the weekend, it was reported that Ohtani wants MLB teams to make a presentation to him as to why he should play for each individual team that wants to get into the bidding:
The memo from Nez Balelo, co-head of CAA Baseball, was distributed to all 30 teams by the commissioner's office late Friday along with materials for the Dec. 1 vote on a new posting agreement between Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball. If the deal is approved, the 23-year-old is expected to be put up for bid later that day or the following day.
Balelo's memo asks for a team to evaluate Ohtani's talent as a pitcher and as a hitter; to explain its player development, medical training and player performance philosophies and facilities; to describe its minor league and spring training facilities; to detail resources for Ohtani's cultural assimilation into the team's city; to demonstrate a vision for how Ohtani could integrate into the team's organization; and to tell Ohtani why the team is a desirable place to play.
Well. Ohtani has requested these answers in writing, but why not send them an informational video? (In both English and Japanese, of course.) The Cubs have gotten pretty good at this sort of thing over the last few years. They made recruiting videos for Jon Lester, Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist:
Well before the 2016 season began, the Cubs commissioned a 14-minute video that culminates in that long-awaited happy ending. They sent copies to prospective free agents Ben Zobrist and Jason Heyward, who each saw himself depicted as a hero in Game 7 of the World Series.
It was just another recruiting tool for the Cubs, who began sending out videos the previous year during their successful pursuit of free-agent pitcher Jon Lester.
The “happy ending” described above was showing the players involved winning the World Series for the Cubs. That Tribune article was written in October 2016, as the Cubs were just beginning what was to be their successful completion of that goal with last year’s World Series win.
According to the Associated Press article linked above, Ohtani has requested written memos:
The agent for the star pitcher and outfielder asked for written explanations in English and Japanese on how Ohtani would fit into each organization intending to bid and what makes the team attractive, according to details obtained by The Associated Press.
But I don’t see why the Cubs couldn’t accompany their “written explanation” with a video showing all the things requested: the minor league, spring training and workout facilities, the cultural things available in Chicago, workout facilities, etc.
It would seem the Cubs might still be a longshot to sign Ohtani. Nevertheless I’d expect Theo & Co. to put in this effort. You never know when it might pay off.
Here are some Ohtani highlights, both pitching and hitting, including a baseball that he literally hit into the roof at the Tokyo Dome: