Padres Rumors: The Friars are in the hunt for Shohei Ohtani

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TOKYO, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 12: Shohei Ohtani
TOKYO, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 12: Shohei Ohtani /
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When thinking about Padres rumors, even a week ago who could have imagined that the much sought after two-way player from Japan, Shohei Ohtani, would have narrowed his list of favored teams to include San Diego?

On Monday, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union Tribune reported, and our own Vikram Muduvadi followed up on that story, that in addition to San Diego Padres rumors, the other teams making the cut include the Seattle Mariners, San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers and Angels (of Anaheim), Texas Rangers and Chicago Cubs.

According to a variety of sources, including Bryan Mcwilliam on thescore.com, Ohtani will meet with the Padres Wednesday.

Of course, the Padres have already tried the experiment of pitcher/position player with Christian Bethancourt, and the outcome has not been positive especially at the major league level. In early April this season, the Padres sent Bethancourt to the minors after he gave up six earned runs in fewer than four innings as a relief pitcher. He batted .143/.143/.143/.286.

Ohtani, however, has pitched and played in the outfield for the Hokkaido-Nippon Ham Fighters since 2013, where he began his career as an 18-year-old (9.8 years younger than the average player at that level). As a pitcher, he had a 42-15 record, an ERA of 2.52 and a WHIP of 1.076. He played both corner outfield spots and batted .286/.358/.500

Fortunately for a mid-market team like the Padres, “money is clearly not the most important consideration to Ohtani,” reports Jon Paul Morosi, a columnist for MLB.com. According to Morosi, Ohtani’s preferences also include a city that will allow him to “assimilate culturally.” Assimilation into a smaller city like San Diego or San Francisco would seem more easily achieved than into a megalopolis like Los Angeles.

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Anthony Bass, who was drafted by the Padres and pitched in San Diego from 2011 to 2013, played with the Fighters in 2016 and has some insights into Ohtani. Bass told Ken Davidoff of the New York Post, “He eats, breathes and sleeps baseball. He goes to the field, and when he leaves the field, he goes back to the dorm and locks himself in there.”

The Giants and Dodgers have an advantage in their recent playoff history, which includes three World Series titles for San Francisco since 2010. However, Ohtani’s preferences seem to favor other variables. The presence of former Japanese major leaguers, Hideo Nomo and Takashi Saito, in the Padres’ front office may help the Padres’ cause.

Also the current director of applied science for the local team, Seiichiro Nakagaki, “served as the personal trainer for Japanese ace Yu Darvish” during A.J. Preller’s time with the Texas Rangers, according to the SDUT’s Lin.

Although the Padres cannot brag about recent playoff appearances as most of the other clubs on the short list, the team’s stock has gone up thanks to dramatically improved rankings of the farm system as well as a revamping of the entire organization. Landing a sought-after player like Ohtani would provide a huge boost to local fans and to the perception of the Padres as an organization.

Next: Padres' latest prospect rankings

However, the somewhat opaque process set by Ohtani’s representatives has just begun. Further cuts to the list of teams may take place this coming weekend, and there’s no reported timeline for the final decision on Shohei Ohtani’s destination.

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