Having spent close to $5M on international free agents in 2016, far more than their allotted $2.35M bonus pool, the Washington Nationals are limited to spending “... a maximum of $300,000 on any one bonus over the next two seasons,” as Washington Post writer Chelsea Janes noted in a recent article about the possibility of the Nats signing/pursuing Japanese pitcher/slugger Shohei Ohtani.
Before Major League Baseball (MLB) and Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) and the MLB Players’ Association reached an agreement on a new posting system last week, Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo was asked if the Nats would pursue Ohtani, 23, who is the prize of the international market as a two-way player who, as MLB.com’s Doug Miller noted last week, “posted a 1.86 ERA and struck out 174 batters in 140 innings while slashing .322/.416/.588 with 22 homers,” in his last full season in 2016 before dealing with injury issues this year.
“We’re not sure what the process even is at this point,” Rizzo told reporters at the GM’s Meetings earlier this month, as quoted by Washington Post columnist Dave Sheinen.
“So until we know more about that, we’ll no-comment on it.”
In an appearance on the MLB Network show “MLB Now” this afternoon, however, Rizzo did comment, sharing what the Nats’ pitch to the right-hander/outfielder might be in response to the questionnaire Ohtani’s representatives reportedly sent out to teams:
#Nats GM Mike Rizzo gives some insight into the @Nationals' Shohei Ohtani sales pitch on #MLBNow. pic.twitter.com/98WgnnVGTe— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) November 27, 2017
“I think that you have to show the unique skill set of this type of player,” Rizzo said, “... and with Washington I think that we’ll show him our wares, we’ll give him an inside look at what the [organization] looks like. We’ve had sustained success since 2011. We’ve had a history with this type of phenomenal players out of the draft such as [Bryce] Harper and [Stephen] Strasburg and that type of thing. And I think that showing just how we care for our players as far the Strasburg shutdown and what that meant to him as far as the trust factor between management and players and that type of thing.
“We have a lot to offer here with Washington, D.C.,” Rizzo continued.
“It is an international type of city, we have the Japanese Embassy here, we’ve got a lot of things going for us.
“The No. 1 thing is we’ve got a great ownership group and a great team that he could join and have success right off the bat.”
Also, maybe the Nationals should have Bryce Harper show Ohtani around the nation’s capital:
When I asked Shohei Ohtani to name his favorite players, he first mentioned Ichiro and Yu Darvish. Then he said he likes to watch @Bharper3407 and has studied video of Harper at the plate. @MLB @MLBNetwork— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) November 22, 2017