White Sox GM Kenny Williams calls $30 million for Albert Pujols “asinine”

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In an interview with Chuck Garfien of CSNChicago.com earlier today, White Sox general manager Kenny Williams said that his club won’t go after Albert Pujols if he becomes available as a free agent following the 2011 season.

Hardly surprising information given that the White Sox signed Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko to multi-year contracts over the winter, but what was more interesting was what Williams said about the possibility of the game having a $30 million player.

“For the game’s health as a whole, when we’re talking about 30 million dollar players, I think it’s asinine,” Williams said in an interview with Comcast SportsNet. “We have gotten to the point of no return. Something has to happen. And if it means the game being shut down for the sake of bringing sanity to it, to franchises that aren’t going to stop the insanity, I’m all for it.”

Yes, at least for a moment, Williams appeared to advocate the idea of another work stoppage in MLB. He continues:

“Jerry Reinsdorf put it best when he and I had a conversation about it, he said, ‘It’s a shame that our game is played, and when the game starts, everybody plays under the same rules, the same 27 outs. The problem is, before the game, the rules are completely different.’”

“I personally, from a competitive standpoint, would love to be on an even playing field with everyone,” Williams said. “But it’s really difficult for me to complain too much when we still have a higher payroll than some of the others. So at least we have a fighting chance.”

Oh, so Jerry Reinsdorf wants a salary cap. Of course he does.

Williams must have felt someone tap him on his shoulder — or maybe he just remembered how the concept of a salary cap in MLB is a tired and silly notion — because he quickly came to his senses and attempted to put the genie back in the bottle.

“Wait a minute, didn’t I say I wanted it quiet, I wanted peace? Let me shut the hell up already. I was hoping no one would ask me that this entire spring training.”

Too late, Kenny.

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.