STAMFORD, Conn. — The Babe Ruth of Japan is not coming to New York.
The Yankees already have been informed they will not even be among the teams invited to make an in-person pitch to free agent Shohei Otani, GM Brian Cashman revealed on Sunday following his annual rappelling down the side of a building as an elf during the city’s tree-lighting ceremony. The Mets also are out of the running for Otani, according to an industry source.
Bah humbug, indeed.
“We have been informed today that we have been eliminated from the Otani sweepstakes, so we are out,” Cashman said. “I got a call today, this afternoon. The first round was presentations, and I don’t know who’s invited to Round Two, but we’re not.”
The Yankees were previously viewed as one of the favorites to land Shohei Otani.
Cashman declined comment on incoming manager Aaron Boone on Sunday night, but the bombshell that the Yanks already have been eliminated from the Otani bidding drastically affects their offseason plans to fortify both their starting rotation and their everyday lineup in one swoop by signing the 23-year-old two-way Japanese star, a pitcher/outfielder combo who was posted on Friday by the Nippon Ham Fighters.
The Yanks previously were considered to be one of the favorites to land Otani, but Cashman indicated he began to get a “sense” the Bombers shouldn’t be too confident soon after submitting their initial written presentation to the player’s agency, the baseball division of CAA.
According to Cashman, the feedback the Yanks received was that being a big-market team and playing on the east coast actually worked against them.
New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman speaks during a news conference in which he addressed the team’s trades and acquisitions in New York, Monday, July 31, 2017.
“I started getting a feel that wasn’t good a few days ago,” Cashman said. “I knew that our presentation was excellent. The feedback from that was outstanding, but I did get a sense that I can’t change that we’re a big market and I can’t change that we’re in the east.
“So that was something that, presentation or not, might be a difficult thing to overcome. But we would see. Then I got the unfortunate news today that we were out of the picture. That does not mean that anybody east coast and anybody big market is out of the picture. I can’t speak for them. But I did get a feel that we were in jeopardy when I got praise on the presentation, but it felt like I was getting prepared for something that was coming that I wasn’t going to want to hear.”
Nippon established a posting price at $ 20 million — the maximum allowable figure — on Friday, with baseball rules stipulating that any MLB team willing to meet that price would be able to negotiate with Otani within a 21-day window through Dec. 22.
Shohei Ohtani celebrates after hitting a solo homer in the fifth inning during the international friendly match between Japan and Netherlands.
Under terms of MLB’s new labor pact, any contract with Otani must be set up as a minor-league deal and subject to the signing team’s 2017-18 international signing bonus pool. Texas has the most money available to offer at $ 3,535,000, closely followed by the Yankees at $ 3.5 million.
“Listen, when players are in the marketplace like that, you do everything g you possibly can,” Cashman said. “We’re proud about what we have going on here in the city with the fans we have. It’s just not for everybody. We wish him the best of luck; he’s an exciting young talent. Some fan base is going to be excited about it, but unfortunately I’m delivering news I’d rather not.”
Cashman added that the second round of meetings with Otani will take place this week in Southern California, but the Yanks “were not invited” to those proceedings. The rival Red Sox also were eliminated from Otani bidding, according to the Boston Globe.
Shoehei Otani will not be coming to New York.
“I can tell you with ease, if it’s not going to be us, it has nothing to do with us and everything we did to try to put ourselves in position to be the team to secure him. It’s just not going to be,” Cashman said. “We’ve scouted him since 2012, we’ve been around it and unfortunately the one thing you can’t do is get in the house and get to know the person and the player. You’re flying blind a little bit, so all you can do is educate them about who you are and what you are and let the brand stand for itself.
“We did that, but at the end of the day, he has an opportunity as a posted player to pick where he’s gonna be most comfortable. That’s yet to be determined, but I can just tell you that it’s not going to be the New York Yankees.”
The Yanks now are likely to turn their attention elsewhere in the free-agent pitching market, possibly a short-term deal with veteran starter CC Sabathia or someone like Tampa’s Alex Cobb.
“It’s disappointing in that we spent a lot of time and effort (on Otani), but that’s part of the job,” Cashman said. “Was it disappointing to hear that? Yeah, because we have as much to offer as anybody. I think this is a great situation. We have tremendous ownership, a great young team, an amazing fan base with a ton of support and as good of a city to live in as any place in the world.
“But again, we’re just not going to be the team. Listen, I would cringe when everybody kept saying we would be the favorites…I guess I can’t be surprised that the decision-making might be a little different, but I am surprised that at the very least we didn’t get a chance to (give) an in-person presentation.”