Jay Gibbons finally gets what he asked for. Now will he hold up his end of the deal?

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The Dodgers designating Garret Anderson for assignment opened up a roster spot, and the man who took it was one Jay Gibbons.  Interesting story there.

Gibbons, you’ll recall, was a Mitchell Report All-Star, having been tied up with those “rejuvenation clinics” that supplied players with HGH.  He was released by the Orioles the following spring and failed to latch on anywhere else as spring turned to summer.  In June 2008, he wrote letters to all 30 MLB teams basically pleading for a job (see the sidebar).  In the letter he said this:

I respectfully and humbly request that you grant me the chance to play
for your organization. I am so willing to prove myself as a player, and a
person, that I will donate ALL of my minor league earnings to your
Club’s charity. In the event that I earn the right to play at the major
league level, I will gladly donate a significant sum to that same
charity.

The letter bore some immediate fruit, as Gibbons was signed by the independent Long Island Ducks. Soon after that the Milwaukee Brewers took a chance on him, but he never made the big club. The Marlins gave him a look in spring training in 2009 but released him and he spent the year with the independent Newark Bears.  This year he’s been at AAA Albuquerque all season.

But now he’s back in the majors.  Query: did he give his minor league salary to the Brewers’ charity in 2008 and the Dodgers’ in 2009?  Now that he’s been called up, is he donating a “significant sum” to the Dodgers’ charity?

I’m not saying he should be forced to — the Dodgers charity has it’s own problems, so I actually hope he doesn’t, and it has been a couple of years since he made that promise — but he did say he would.

Seattle Mariners to make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani

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Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a team-sponsored podcast the other day that the M’s will make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani. To that end, Dipoto said that the M’s would be willing to let the two-way star to pitch and to hit, which is something Ohtani is interested in doing in the United States. Not all clubs are likely to let him do this, with most likely seeing him as a starting pitcher only.

Ohtani, who is expected to be posted by his Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, possibly as early as today, can sign with anyone he wants. He is, however, subject to the international bonus pool caps, so the bids on him will be somewhat limited. The Texas Rangers and New York Yankees have the most money available: $3.535 million for the Rangers and $3.5 million for the Yankees. The Twins ($3.245 million), Pirates ($2.266 million), Marlins ($1.74 million) and Mariners ($1.57 million) are the only other teams with more than $1 million left. Twelve teams — including the Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals and Astros — are limited to a maximum of $300,000, having met or exceeded their caps for this signing period already.

Ohtani, however, is said to be less motivated by money than he is by finding the right situation. While a lot of guys say that, the fact that Ohtani is coming over to the U.S. now, when his financial prospects are limited, as opposed to waiting for two years when he is not subject to the bonus caps and could sign for nine figures, suggests that he is telling the truth. As such, a team like the Mariners that is willing to allow him to hit and pitch could make up for the couple of million less they have in bonus money to spend.

As for how that might work logistically, Dipoto said that the team would be willing to play DH Nelson Cruz a few days in the outfield to accommodate Ohtani, allowing him to DH on the days he’s not pitching. That might be . . . interesting to see, but given how badly the Mariners could use a good starting pitcher, they have an incentive to be creative.

Ohtani, 23, suffered some injuries in 2017, limiting him to just five starts and 65 games as a hitter. In 2016, however, he hit .289/.356/.547 with 22 homers in 342 at-bats and went 11-3 with a 3.24 ERA, and a K/BB ratio of 146/51 in 133.1 innings as a starter.

Five clubs have more money to spend on Ohtani than the Mariners do. None of those teams are on the west coast, which some Asian players have said in the past they preferred due to faster travel back home. The Mariners, owned for a long time by a Japanese company which still retains a minority interest in the club, and long the home for high-profile Japanese players such as Ichiro and Hisashi Iwakuma, likely have a better media and marketing reach in Japan than most other teams as well, which might be a factor in his decision making process. Is all that enough to sway Ohtani?

We’ll find out over the next couple of weeks.