Making the Cut
The field in the sweepstakes for Japanese star Shohei Ohtani was narrowed considerably on Sunday as clubs were informed whether or not they had made the cut to the final round. Those teams that survived Sunday’s trimming will meet with Ohtani and his representatives in person this week to make their final pitch.
The first major club to be cut out of the race was the New York Yankees. The team’s general manager, Brian Cashman, told reporters on Sunday that while Ohtani was very impressed with the club’s presentation, his preference is to play on the west coast and/or in a smaller market.
One by one, reports came in of teams that were crossed off of the list. The Red Sox had hoped to woo Ohtani during their face-to-face presentation this week, but they won’t get that opportunity. The Mets, Twins, Pirates, Blue Jays, Athletics, Diamondbacks, Nationals, Braves, Rays, Cardinals, White Sox and Brewers had their hopes dashed as well on Sunday.
Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports was the first to report that the Mariners and Giants had made the cut and will get their chance to impress Ohtani in person this week. Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports added later in the evening that the Padres had survived the massive round of cuts as well.
Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News added Sunday evening that the Rangers and Cubs are believed to be in the mix as well, despite not being on the West Coast. The Rangers are able to offer Ohtani the most money with $3.55 million remaining in their international signing bonus pool.
While it hasn’t been confirmed, the Dodgers and Angels are expected to remain in the hunt as well. No word yet on whether or not the Astros and Reds are still alive, or if they have been axed.
The 23-year-old two-way star was officially posted by the Nippon Ham Fighters on Friday and has until December 22 to finalize his decision on where he’ll begin his MLB career.
Framework in Place
As has been the case for the majority of the hot stove season, most of the rumblings continue to revolve around the Ohtani sweepstakes and the Giancarlo Stanton trade rumors.
Jon Morosi of MLB.com reported Sunday afternoon that the Marlins had agreed to “general framework” for trades with both the Cardinals and the Giants.
Talks with both of those clubs are now on hold though, as the Marlins wait to hear from Stanton on his interest in waiving his full no-trade clause to go to either of those teams.
Neither the Giants nor the Cardinals are putting any pressure on Stanton in this situation, claiming there’s no timetable for him to make his decision.
The package that the Cardinals have offered is reportedly headlined by prospect Sandy Alcantara. The 23-year-old right-hander posted a 4.31 ERA, 1.43 WHIP and 106/54 K/BB ratio in his 125 ⅓ innings at Double-A Springfield.
Craig Mish of Sirius XM added that the Cardinals’ proposal also includes more cash going back to the Marlins than the Giants’ offer does, which could be significant given the Marlins’ extreme desire to shed payroll.
While it seems like a two-horse race at the moment, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports cautioned not to count the Dodgers out in this sweepstakes. Stanton has made it known that he would love to play for the Dodgers and would approve a deal there. The issue, aside from the treasure trove of prospects that the Dodgers would need to give up, is that they're already way over the luxury tax threshold and it would take some creative financing to make the payroll work.
The White Sox scored an offensive upgrade behind the plate on Friday when they inked Welington Castillo to a two-year, $15 million contract.
The deal also includes an $8 million club option for 2020.
Castillo transitioned well to the American League in 2017, slashing .282/.323/.490 with 20 homers and 53 RBI in 96 games with the Orioles. His fantasy value should remain stable, as he will stay in a tremendous hitting environment at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago.
Jays snag Diaz
The Blue Jays made a splash on Friday when they acquired shortstop Aledmys Diaz from the Cardinals for minor league outfielder J.B. Woodman.
It’s a nice buy-low move for the Jays as Diaz fell flat on his face after his breakthrough 2016 campaign. He hit just .259/.290/.392 with seven homers and 20 RBI in 301 plate appearances at the big league level.
His fantasy value should get a boost from playing half of his games in the hitter-friendly confines of the Rogers Centre. He’ll make a very attractive late-round option in mixed leagues.
Quick Hits: The Yankees have spoken to veteran left-hander CC Sabathia about a potential return in 2018… Astros’ hurler Dallas Keuchel is dealing with a minor left foot sprain that he sustained while slipping during the team’s World Series victory parade… The Padres announced Sunday that they had signed general manager A.J. Preller to a three-year contract extension through the 2022 season… Xavier Cedeno has reportedly drawn a “lot of interest from other clubs” since he was non-tendered by the Rays on Friday… Angels’ prospect Nate Smith is expected to miss the entire 2018 season after undergoing anterior capsule surgery in September. The timetable for his recovery is 12-to-14 months… The representatives for Miles Mikolas expect at least 10 MLB offers for the right-hander after dominating for the last three seasons in Japan… Hector Noesi, Roger Bernadina and Pat Dean each re-signed one-year contracts with the KIA Tigers in the Korea Baseball Organization… 26 players became free agents on Friday as they weren’t tendered contracts by their respective clubs: Terrance Gore (who later re-signed with the Royals), Shae Simmons, Drew Smyly, Chi Chi Gonzalez, A.J. Griffin, Nick Martinez, Hanser Alberto, Al Albuquerque, Jake Petricka, Zach Putnam, Bruce Rondon, Xavier Cedeno, Mike Fiers, Matt Adams, Jace Peterson, Danny Santana, Ryan Goins, Tom Koehler, Jared Hughes, Kyle Crockett, J.J. Hoover, T.J. McFarland, Taylor Davis, Hector Rondon, Albert Suarez and Alen Hanson.