Seven finalists for Shohei Ohtani revealed

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Ken Rosenthal reported a few minutes ago that seven teams remain in the running to sign Shoehei Ohtani: the Dodgers, Angels, Padres, Mariners, Giants, Rangers and Cubs.

Ohtani and his representatives will meet with these teams in Los Angeles some time this week, after which he’ll make a decision on where to play.

This list, generally speaking, jibes with reports that Ohtani wishes to play on the west coast. The Rangers remain in the running, however, because they have the most bonus money available to give to Ohtani, at around $3.535 million. The inclusion of the Cubs on the list is somewhat surprising, geographically speaking, and because they don’t have a ton of bonus pool money to pay him. They do look to be a stronger on-field contender than all of the clubs on the list with the possible exception of the Dodgers, though, and that cannot be discounted as a factor.

The Winter Meetings begin in a week. It’s quite possible that Ohtani will be introduced by his new team by then.

Royals fire manager Mike Matheny after 65-97 end to season

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Manager Mike Matheny and pitching coach Cal Eldred were fired by the Kansas Cty Royals on Wednesday night, shortly after the struggling franchise finished the season 65-97 with a listless 9-2 loss to the Cleveland Guardians.

The Royals had exercised their option on Matheny’s contract for 2023 during spring training, when the club hoped it was turning the corner from also-ran to contender again. But plagued by poor pitching, struggles from young position players and failed experiments with veterans, the Royals were largely out of playoff contention by the middle of summer.

The disappointing product led owner John Sherman last month to fire longtime front office executive Dayton Moore, the architect of back-to-back American League champions and the 2015 World Series title team. Moore was replaced by one of his longtime understudies, J.J. Picollo, who made the decision to fire Matheny hours after the season ended.

Matheny became the fifth big league manager to be fired this year.

Philadelphia’s Joe Girardi was replaced on June 3 by Rob Thomson, who engineered a miraculous turnaround to get the Phillies into the playoffs as a wild-card team. The Angels replaced Joe Maddon with Phil Nevin four days later, Toronto’s Charlie Montoyo was succeeded by John Schneider on July 13 and the Rangers’ Chris Woodward by Tony Beasley on Aug. 15.

In addition, Miami’s Don Mattingly said late last month that he will not return next season.