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Shohei Ohtani asks MLB teams to define his role


Japanese pitcher/outfielder Shohei Ohtani wants to know how MLB teams plan on using him next season — a reasonable request, given the high demand for his services and his remarkable skill set and track record over the last five years. According to a report from the Associated Press, agent and co-head of CAA Baseball Nez Balelo sent a detailed memo that asked teams to define his client’s role and pitch him on the benefits of signing a contract with them.

Here’s exactly what that includes:

Balelo’s memo asks for a team to evaluate Ohtani’s talent as a pitcher and as a hitter; to explain its player development, medical training and player performance philosophies and facilities; to describe its minor league and spring training facilities; to detail resources for Ohtani’s cultural assimilation into the team’s city; to demonstrate a vision for how Ohtani could integrate into the team’s organization; and to tell Ohtani why the team is a desirable place to play.

Per the report, teams were specifically instructed not to include any financial terms in their letters.

While all 30 teams are expected to have some level of interest in the two-way star, only a few have publicly hinted at their intention to use Ohtani as a hybrid pitcher/hitter. That includes the Yankees, who are still seen as the favorites to land the 23-year-old and could could presumably ease him into a six-man rotation alongside Masahiro Tanaka, Sonny Gray, Jordan Montgomery, Luis Severino and CC Sabathia (provided they can persuade Sabathia to return on a one-year deal). The Mariners are also willing to make room in their lineup, with GM Jerry Dipoto hoping to shift designated hitter Nelson Cruz into a part-time outfield role to clear some DH at-bats for Ohtani.

As for Ohtani himself, the young phenom doesn’t appear to be put off by teams who would prefer he focus his talents in one direction. “I don’t know if I’ll be given the chance to be able to do it, so first of all, I’ll have to listen to what they say,” he told reporters several weeks ago. “You can’t go after something like that unless you’re in the right circumstance. It’s not just about what I want to do.” For now, however, it certainly looks like he’ll have his pick of circumstances.

Jason Vargas fractured his non-pitching hand

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Mets left-hander Jason Vargas has a non-displaced fracture of the hamate bone in his right hand, the team announced Sunday. Vargas sustained the injury after taking a comebacker off of his hand on Friday and is expected to consult with a hand specialist later today as the team settles on a course of action. Comments from GM Sandy Alderson indicate that surgery is a possibility, though the left-hander may also pitch through it for the time being.

Vargas, 35, signed a two-year, $16 million pact with the team last month. He completed a four-year run with the Royals in 2017, earning his first career All-Star nomination with an 18-11 record in 32 starts and producing a 4.16 ERA, 2.9 BB/9 and 6.7 SO/9 over 179 2/3 innings. Prior to the incident, the southpaw was expected to help fill out the back end of the Mets’ Opening Day rotation.

Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News estimates that Vargas will likely miss the start of the season as he faces a two- to six-week recovery period. It’s a disappointing turn of events for a pitching staff that has been absolutely ravaged by injuries over the last couple of years.