The Babe Ruth of Japan, Shohei Ohtani, will not be playing in the city where Ruth became a legend. Nor will he play where the Babe began his career.
New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman informed reporters Sunday night that Ohtani’s representatives have told the team that they will not be invited to meet with the starter/slugger face-to-face. The Yankees have been preparing for months their bid for the services of the 23-year-old with a 100 mph fastball and devastating swing.
Boston Red Sox GM Dave Dombrowski also said Sunday that Boston is out of the running.
Cashman said Ohtani seems to be leaning toward West Coast teams in smaller markets.
According to multiple reports, the Minnesota Twins, Oakland Athletics, Milwaukee Brewers, Pittsburgh Pirates, Toronto Blue Jays, Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago White Sox and New York Mets are also out.
Cashman made his comments during the Heights and Lights event in Stamford, Connecticut, where he annually rappels off a 22-story building. Cashman called Ohtani’s decision “disappointing.”
The Yankees were perceived by many to be the favorites because they had the second-largest amount of international signing bonus money ($3.35 million), the diversity of New York, the successful recent history with Japanese players (such as Hideki Matsui and Masahiro Tanaka) and a chance to win immediately.
The 23-year-old Ohtani has until 11:59 p.m. EST Dec. 22 to agree to a contract with an MLB team. Ohtani is limited to a minor league contract because of restrictions imposed by the MLB collective bargaining agreement. The largest deal he could sign is with the Texas Rangers for $3,535,000.