The quest for the Cincinnati Reds and every other team in Major League Baseball is officially starting for Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani. The Associated Press is reporting that the agency representing has sent a memo to all teams. Here’s what their report says:
Balelo’s memo asks for a team to evaluate Ohtani’s talent as a pitcher and as a hitter; to explain its player development, medical training and player performance philosophies and facilities; describe its minor league and spring training facilities; to detail resources for Ohtani’s cultural assimilation into the team’s city; to demonstrate a vision for how Ohtani could integrate into the team’s organization; and to tell Ohtani why the team is a desirable place to play.
Each team was asked to provide its answers in both languages as soon as possible. Clubs were told not to include any financial terms of a possible contract.
The Cincinnati Reds haven’t been talked about as one of the favorites since the beginning. They still aren’t. But, it’s not due to money. It seems that the speculation has always been for the big market teams to land Shohei Ohtani. That’s likely been due to the fact that they would, in theory at least, provide more marketing potential for someone leaving about $100,000,000 on the table if he were to wait two years to come to the United States and be able to sign a Major League deal instead of the current Minor League deal that he will have to accept, which only guarantees a signing bonus that will be capped off around $3.5M for the highest team capable of making an offer.
Where the Reds could struggle in the requests above is something such as the cultural assimilation to the greater Cincinnati area. Some quick internet research suggests that the Japanese-American population of the area is less than 900. That’s a pretty big blow if that aspect of things is very important for Shohei Ohtani. Kenwood has the largest concentration of Japanese-Americans with 122 residents among the just over 22,000 people who live there.
How to sell Cincinnati and the Reds
The Reds, and most teams, also probably won’t stand out much when it comes to medical stuff, minor league and spring training facilities or a vision on how to fit him into the organization. Where Cincinnati, and other teams, could make their real gains in the pitch, is in player performance philosophies, a willingness to let him play in the field and pitch, as well as why your team is the best fit for him. Now, claiming you’re winning right now, won’t be a way the Reds can compete in this market. But, selling him on being the piece that makes them ready to win, could be. “We have arguably the best hitter alive in Joey Votto. We have a young core of offense under team control for quite a while that includes (name your players here) that can and will grow with you over the next five-to-six years”. It won’t be an easy sell, but it’s probably the best shot the Reds have.
In the end, it’s highly unlikely Cincinnati will be the choice. At the same time, if they don’t put in the $20M posting fee bid, they would be foolish. Every team should put in the max bid of $20M. Only the team that agrees to a contract with the player must pay the $20M fee to Nippon. The Reds, and the other 29 teams in Major League Baseball will all likely make an attempt. Many things seem to be stacked against Cincinnati, but we will find out over the next six weeks where Shohei Ohtani winds up.