For all the riches that Shohei Ohtani awaits this fall, no one knows what uniform he’ll wear next spring. He’s on the verge of landing the first half-billion-dollar contract in baseball history, and as the San Diego Padres have consistently demonstrated over the past few years, teams in the smallest markets can sign players with the richest contracts.
In 2017, the last time Ohtani was able to sign with a major league team, he hit seven. Maybe this time he hits more. He’ll get his money wherever he goes, so teams won’t lure him in simply by showering him with cash.
Ohtani has carefully avoided saying what criteria he will use to decide which teams to consider. The Angels have never had a winning season in his six years at Anaheim, and Ohtani admitted Monday that “losing sucks.”
Would there be a team near Anaheim that could solve this problem?
“He knows the Dodgers are winning,” Dodgers star Mookie Betts said. “We win a lot.”
Betts wasn’t shy about saying he would like Ohtani to join his team. He also insisted that what is best for Ohtani should matter most, whether Dodgers or not.
“I’d love for him to join the Dodgers,” Betts said. “I would love nothing more for him than to join the Dodgers.
“But I also want him to make sure he and his family are safe, to do what makes him happy. He will sign for a long time and for a lot of money. But that’s not the only thing that will make him happy. I just want him to be happy.”
As teams recruit Ohtani this fall, they could ask their players to step in. Ahead of Monday’s home run derby, we asked Betts and his fellow All-Stars what their 30-second pitch to Ohtani might look like.
Topics of conversation ranged from team success to owner generosity, and from personal safety to a state with no income taxes — and in one case, french fries. Hey, the Pittsburgh Pirates probably won’t be the winner for Ohtani, but you never know so we wanted to ask.
All-Stars, make your best pitch:
AUSTIN RILEY, Atlanta Braves:
We will take part in a competition every year. We will have the chance to be in the playoffs every year. I think that’s why you play the game to win a World Series. We have the young group for that. We could use him!
PETE ALONSO, New York Mets:
Honestly it’s a great city to live in. Citi Field is a really fun place to play. We have a great following and it’s just an amazing place to play. That’s number 1.
KYLE TUCKER, Houston Astros:
For me you have to do whatever you want to do for yourself and your family. That’s the most important. But Houston is a really good place. I love playing there. We play indoors. Really good food. No income tax. We have a really good team. That should speak for itself.
JOSH HADER, San Diego Padres:
It’s San Diego. Do you really need much more than that?
If you’ve been to San Diego before, you know how beautiful it is. It’s a fun team. We have a lot of great people over the long term. He’s a guy they probably want to lock up on a long-term deal — as long as they find a billion dollars somewhere.
ALEX COBB, San Francisco Giants:
Knowing Shohei, I know that the financial aspect is at the bottom of his list. I would tell him that we are an organization whose number one priority – it sounds silly to say that – is to win a World Series. This organization knows how to do it. You’ve done it many times in the past.
You have an ownership group that is willing to commit any resources whatever is needed. It’s an organization that’s really fun to be a part of – they get the families right, all the outside things that people don’t see on the field and they take a lot of pride in making sure those things are done right become. I know he would be very comfortable there.
SHANE McCLANAHAN, Tampa Bay Rays:
We win a lot of baseball games.
JORDAN ROMANO, Toronto Blue Jays:
I’m a lifelong Blue Jays fan. The fans are great. The reception staff and coaching team are great. Our field is pretty cool.
Toronto, the city, has it all. It’s a melting pot. It’s super safe. There are things for families. There is night life. Toronto has everything you need.
MICHAEL LORENZEN, Detroit Tigers:
It’s a first class organization. Owner wants to invest in the organization. They follow their word with deeds. They get us a new plane. They get us new clubhouses. You do a lot for us.
And Michigan is beautiful. That’s underestimated. It’s a beautiful place. I’ve grown fond of it.
ADLEY RUTSCHMAN, Baltimore Orioles:
We have a great clubhouse, great people. Camden Yards is a cracker. We have a fun group. And we win.
MARCUS SEMIEN, Texas Rangers:
You can play inside. It’s a temperature-controlled place, and it’s a place where he’s done a great job. He’s done us some harm. We have a team that wants to win. Everyone wants to win a championship now. They’re just around our owners and want to do whatever it takes to make us win.
NICK CASTELLANOS, Philadelphia Phillies:
I would not do that. The only thing I would do is tell him and remind him how much control he has over his decision, which I’m sure he knows. The only thing I would say is go exactly where you want to go. I think a lot of people gave him help early on because if he had waited a little longer, he would have gotten a little more money from the Angels.
He said he didn’t care about the money, he just wanted to make history. He did just that. So I would say to him: do what you want to do, brother.
BRENT ROOKER, Oakland Athletics:
I think we have a really good core group of young people who will continue to develop over the next few years and will make us competitive sooner rather than later. Of course, I think adding such a talent would be a big step forward for any team, including ours.
I don’t think he’ll end up in Oakland, but we’ll see where he goes. Everything is possible.
DAVID BEDNAR, Pittsburgh Pirates (laughs at the absurdity of it all):
We put french fries on everything. I think that’s the only selling point.