Thursday, December 7, 2017

Random Thoughts On The Ohtani Sweepstakes

So the recent Shohei Ohtani buzz is finally happening and has finally brought some life and energy into what has been (and will continue to be) a very slow and dull offseason.

Obviously I'm kind of bummed that the Yankees weren't involved in the Ohtani race as much as I thought they'd be. It seemed so much like a "the stars were aligned" thing but oh well, it's Ohtani's life and I hope he finds what he's looking for elsewhere.

While on that note, let me just say that I am absolutely appalled at reactions like this. For those of you too lazy to click the link, it was a link to the Daily News cover calling Ohtani a chicken. That is garbage. The guy is going to be paid jack shit to uproot his life to play in a new country and in a new culture/environment for the next six years, let him pick where he wants to do it.

For real though, the amount of saltiness and bitterness from the two most obnoxious baseball fanbases when Ohtani said no to the Yankees and Red Sox was something. Enough to ensure that Ohtani the Yankee/Red Sock isn't happening for a long ass time. And I say that as a guy who is a Yankees fan (I guess) :P.

For whatever it's worth I think the Ohtani race will ultimately come down to the Mariners or Padres. Both make a lot of sense and give Ohtani the opportunity to A). both pitch and hit and B). be a part of an up-and-comer. Although the Padres may have an advantage if Ohtani really wants a legit shot at a World Series title in 2020. I stopped caring about the Padres after it was made clear that they stopped caring about Luis Torrens but they do have a great farmsystem. Many won't pan out but the ones that will will be ready and contributing by 2020.

So while that ends the direct Ohtani thought I had, I had a few ones loosely related to it.

The first is that the Minnesota Twins were really smart yesterday by trading bonus pool money to the Seattle Mariners and the Los Angeles Mike Trouts of Anaheim.

The Twins gave away a million apiece in international bonus pool slot money. In return they got back David Banuelos, a catcher who was the Mariners' 10th best prospect on, and Jacob Pearson, an outfielder who was the Trouts' fifth best prospect on

Brian should be proud. Obviously the Twins could've gone after the non-Kevin Maitan prospects who became free agents after MLB cracked down hard on the Atlanta Barves, but instead they turned it into a fifth round draft pick and a third round draft pick. That said the Mariners and Trouts farmsystems are terrible so whether these guys go anywhere except the 25-30 range in the Twins top prospect rankings (at best) remains to be seen but adding depth is never a bad thing. Especially with the Twins' lack of catching depth in their org (they've got Rortvedt, Garver and not much else TBH).

The money acquired could've been for Ohtani, in the Trouts' case you could argue they were for Kevin Maitan. Either way the Twins capitalized and added some nice depth pieces.

I did joke a few times on Twitter that the Yankees should trade their bonus pool money for players, but then I realized two things.

One is that they're actually reportedly interested in a few international free agents like (OF) Julio Pablo Martinez and (INF) Yunior Severino (per Jonathan Mayo). And with Maitan out of the picture, why not? Personally I want them to sign Yunior so that the Yankees can potentially have Luis Severino, Anderson Severino and Yunior Severino all in the same organization.

The second and more important thing is that four of the teams still in the Ohtani race can't dish out anything bigger than a $300,000 bonus to Ohtani. Those four are the Giants, the Padres, Cubs and Dodgers. All of these clubs went above their bonus pool money sometime in the previous two years and as a punishment, 300k is all they can dish out.

This left only the Mariners, Trouts and Rangers as the teams that could get more bonus pool money, and since the rules indicate that you're only allowed to acquire like half of what you originally had I'm not sure how much you can really offer those three clubs anymore. Either way, I think the lack of moves on the Yankees' part indicates that they never really thought that hard about trading slots for players but instead using slots to sign players. Then again who knows, by the time this post goes up something new might happen and make me look like a fool.

My final indirect Ohtani thought is wondering what exactly determines how big or small a market is. I hear it all of the time and I've gotten vague explanations for what it is but I've never really gotten a definitive answer. Some teams just feel like they're big markets and others just seem like they're small even though they might not be either. So I went and looked at it from various angles.


So if we go by population then we see that some teams have bigger markets than many would think. I'm basing this on estimates on some site called World Population Review so take them with a grain of salt, but this gives us a rough idea of how many people live in the top 10 populated cities (that have a baseball team).

1). New York (aprox. 8.5 million)
2). Los Angeles (aprox. 3.9 million)
3). Chicago (aprox. 2.7 million)
4). Houston (aprox. 2.2 million)
5). Phoenix (aprox. 1.5 million)
6). Philadelphia (aprox. 1.5 million)
8). San Diego (aprox. 1.3 million)
13). San Francisco (aprox. 0.86 million)
18). Seattle (aprox. 0.683 million)
19). Denver (aprox. 0.68 million)

Of course a look at the cities below Denver quickly reveals that population isn't exactly what constitutes the size of a market for a given team. Two slots below Denver we have Detroit, Washington D.C. and Boston (in that order), but good luck convincing someone that the Boston Red Sox are a mid-market team.

I've seen the Houston Astros, San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners described as small markets in the past and the truth is that they're really not. Could they just be described as such because of something else? Something like...

On-Field Performance (or lack thereof)?

As in, how good or bad a team is.
It seems like if a team is good and actually spending money on free agents or contract extensions, they get the "they've got the money from a big enough market" treatment while if they let players go/trade them before they get too expensive, the narrative goes the "well they're a small market and don't have the money" route. Fans and media really need to start complaining that the billionaires in charge of the teams are too cheap more. I know they do already (or at least the fans do), but do it more. All of the owners are rich and have money to blow, so blow it and win!

I mentioned before that the Astros were once written off as a small market team. I saw this a lot during their peak rebuilding years (the really really bad years between like 2010 and 2014). Anyone who lives in Houston and watches the Rockets or Texans (or Stars :P) will tell you that Houston is anything BUT a small market. They're the fourth most populated city in the US after all.

The fact that Seattle and San Diego are constantly tied to the "small market" label suggests that some lazy people just use it to describe teams that either suck or were supposed to suck but lucked into the playoffs somehow (looking at you Royals!).

This is the only way I could ever justify calling the New York Mets a small market team. They're not BTW, I ran a Twitter poll scientific experiment to confirm it, although my study is still ongoing and the results are... surprising.

I guess there are other ways of looking at it like the media outlets who cover the teams, how wealthy the owners are (again, they're all billionaires who could take on multiple Giancarlo Stanton contracts) and revenue/income, but meh I got tired of doing any more digging and decided to just go with a combination of the local population, the media and whether or not the team sucks.

Posting his rookie twice because I can

So those were some random thoughts on and kind of on Shohei Ohtani. Where he picks I hope he can have a great start to the second chapter of his already unique career. Even if he's not a Yankee I'll still root for him to succeed as a person.

In the meantime, best of luck to my fellow collectors who are fans of teams still in the Ohtani race. Just know that your anxiousness and hopefulness is helping the rest of us in the baseball world stay entertained as the cold winter continues. Or at least when the Rangers aren't playing in my case :P.

As always thanks for stopping by and take care :).


  1. I hope the Padres are in the running. I need something to look forward to and cheer for this season.

    1. That'd be fun, if nothing else to help ease the pain for long suffering Padres fans.

  2. I'll be happy just to see him play in the MLB, a lot of talent there.

  3. Really hope it's not the Padres. Because I don't need myself rooting for the guy to be a disaster.

    1. Lol, you and I both know that he could be the best player on Earth but the rest of the team will let him down.