Star Japanese pitcher Shohei Ohtani.
By Brendan Kuty
STAMFORD, Conn. — Oh-no-tani.
Ohtani, 23, is considered one of the best talents to have come out of the country and the Yankees were expected to be heavy front-runnersto nab him.
“We have been informed today that we have been eliminated from the Ohtani sweepstakes, so we are out,” Cashman said. “I got a call (Sunday), this afternoon, the first round was presentations. And I don’t know who’s invited to Round Two, but we’re not.
“I started getting a feel that wasn’t good a few days ago. 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.”
Ohtani’s two problems with the Yankees? Cashman said he was told that it was that they’re not a small-market club, nor are they on the West Coast.
Cashman said he got the news earlier Sunday. The GM said the Yankees made a sterling presentation to his crew and that Ohtani’s agents — Creative Artists Agency — told him they were impressed, but that he received hints the pinstripes might not be in the running.
Cashman said he got the feeling that the Yankees were never really even being considered by Ohtani.
It’s a big loss for the Yankees, who had a once-in-a-generation opportunity to could slot Ohtani into the front of their rotation as a ace-level pitcher and possibly as an impact designated hitter.
“Listen,” Cashman said, “when players are in the marketplace like that, you do everything g you possibly can. In this case, we prepared with trade-deadline money acquisitions in international slot money, and we put forward everything we’re about. But if it’s not a fit, it’s not a fit. You move on and continue to engage anything that’s available to make your better…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.”
“My understanding is that Round Two is going to be in southern California, but again we got informed that we’re not invited to that second round.”
Last season, Ohtani hit .332 with eight homers and 31 RBI in 65 games, battling various injuries. In 2016, he hit .322 with 22 homers and 67 RBI while also going 10-4 with a 1.86 ERA in 21 games (20 starts). Several scouts have told NJ Advance Media they expect Ohtani to transition into full-time pitching eventually.
“It was a pretty extensive presentation, I can tell you that. Something we were real proud about. I know we knocked their socks off, but because of the way CAA responded to us that they were amazed about the amount of time and effort and passion that was put into it. I told our staff when we filed this, if it’s not gonna be us, it’s not because of us. I felt real comfortable and confident and proud about everything that we did. 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 us.
“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.”