NL exec says Yankees favored to land Ohtani once he's posted
The Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes isn't officially underway, but the New York Yankees appear to be the early favorite to sign the Japanese superstar once MLB finalizes his posting.
"The Yankees are the favorite, there's no other way to look at it," a National League executive told Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports following the general manager meetings earlier this week.
While the Yankees may be the front-runners to acquire Ohtani, there's still a major hurdle in the way. MLB and Nippon Professional Baseball - the Japanese league where he has played the last five seasons for the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters - have to agree on international posting rules that satisfy the players' union as well.
As it stands, the MLBPA has reportedly blocked the understanding the two leagues had and has given a Monday deadline for a resolution to be presented.
As a hitter, the 23-year-old Ohtani has posted a .286/.358/.500 slash line over 403 games. As a pitcher, he has a 2.52 ERA over 82 starts.
Helping to handicap the sweepstakes is the fact the Yankees have among the most money remaining in their international bonus pool. Their $3.25 million is only bested by the Texas Rangers, while the Minnesota Twins recently voided the $3-million contract of an international player, which goes back into their spending pool.
It should be noted that, by coming over before turning 25, Ohtani is foregoing a much larger contract. At age 23, the two-way star is subject to international signing rules. If he waited two seasons, he would be considered a true free agent under the new collective bargaining agreement, and have no restrictions on his contract. Whether a negligible amount of bonus-pool money will sway his decision on where to sign is up for debate.