The arms (and bats) race for the Japanese Babe Ruth Shohei Ohtani is heating up as we move closer to a decision. As per team announcements, the Angels and Mariners have each swung deals for an extra $1 million in international bonus pool money.
The Twins will get top prospect Jacob Pearson from the Angels and will receive prospect David Banuelos from the Mariners in exchange for $1 million each in international bonus room. That’s a good chunk of change for both clubs to significantly up their offers to Ohtani and both teams have no problem dealing worthy prospects for the gamble.
Pearson is the Angels’ third round draft pick from last year, a 19-year old outfielder that MLB Pipeline ranked the 5th best prospect in Los Angeles’ farm system. He slashed a shaky .226/.304/.284 over 40 games this summer in Rookie ball and between other top prospects like Pearson’s fellow draft classmate Jo Adell and left fielder Michael Hermosillo, Pearson was fairly expendable in the Angels’ pipeline.
Banuelos, the 21-year old catcher, was taken in the 5th round of last year’s draft by the Mariners. He batted .236/.331/.394 with four homers in short-A this year. Banuelos is highly regarded for his defensive skills behind the plate and smart base running insticnts.
This brings the Mariners international signing money up to $2.55 million, just under the leading Rangers’ $3.53 million to play with. The Angels are only pocket change behind Seattle, now fostering $2.31 million to persuade Ohtani over to Los Angeles. This leaves the final four teams—the Cubs, Dodgers, Giants, and Padres— working with $300k each.
It’s important to note that Kazuhisa Makita is another Japanese pitcher who will be posted to the American market. The veteran hurler has a wicked sidearm and put in time as both a starting and relief pitcher. If Ohtani signs with a team at the lesser end of the trade pool wealth scale, it’s not a far fetched thought to think one of those more monetary saturated teams could lunge for him next.
At the end of the day, Ohtani is a 23-year old athlete with an international spotlight shining directly on him. He’s finished up meeting with the seven remaining teams and is probably overwhelmed by all of the faces, figures, and cultural differences that have passed through his space in such a short amount of time. While the extra money certainly presents itself as a carrot, a giant carrot with a lot of zeros that looks very exciting, he could be thinking and feeling anything right now. Only time will tell if the risk on Mariners’ and Angels’ part will pan out.