Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic has a column today (subscription only) in which he reports that certain team officials speculate that Shohei Ohtani’s decision about which team to sign with has already been made but that he made everyone jump through hoops anyway. They’re frustrated about the waste of time and all of that. Rosenthal makes a reference to the process as “eyewash,” which is a term baseball people use to describe phony effort aimed at making someone think you’re doing all the necessary work when you really aren’t. One executive suggested that teams were being “played.”
Their reasoning: Ohtani quickly eliminated 23 teams, and all east coast teams, and set meetings with the seven finalists super quickly. The anonymous team executives are wondering why they put so much time into responding to his agents’ requests — they made teams fill out a questionnaire about how they’d use Ohtani — if he had a small group of teams in mind anyway. They’re suggesting that the whole process is eyewash to make it appear as if he hadn’t already chosen a team.
To which I say: who friggin’ cares?
Ohtani appears to be a special talent. A special talent who will be paid less than a middle reliever for the next three years at least because the owners and the union threw his bargaining power under a bus in the last CBA. That they’re now moaning about having had to answer some questions from him as he decides where to go is pretty rich. And that’s before you look around and realize that teams routinely show disingenuous interest in players for their own purposes, be it to make other teams pay a higher price or to leverage players they really want. And that they freely use all of their power and leverage to keep costs down and control players, especially pre-arb players.
These clubs should be thankful they even had a remote chance at picking up a young, front-line starter who can hit homers for less than the Cubs are paying Justin Wilson. For them to take aim at his decision making process as disingenuous is beyond petty.
After reading this I hope Ohtani picks his team soon and holds a press conference in which he says “I knew I was coming here all along. I just wanted to make you puppets dance. Dance, puppets, dance!” After which he takes all of the answered questionnaires from the losing team and blows his nose with ’em.
Back in reality, Ohtani has completed interviews with representatives from the seven finalists and now the ball is in his court to make a decision. He has until December 22nd to do so, though one expects he’ll do it more quickly than that.