NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It was a done deal, right up until it wasn’t.
For weeks, the Yankees were reportedly the frontrunner to sign Japanese two-way star Shohei Ohtani. Though his initial earning power in MLB would be limited due to the league’s collective bargaining agreement, he was expected to be wined and dined by several teams before ultimately putting pen to paper with the Bombers.
Well, that’s not going to happen.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman confirmed on Sunday night that Ohtani won’t be coming to the Bronx. The bright lights of the big city, not to mention the mighty endorsement dollars and exposure that come with it, apparently do not appeal enough to the 23-year-old pitcher/outfielder.
“I started getting a feel that wasn’t good a few days ago,” Cashman said. “I knew that our presentation was excellent. The feedback from that was outstanding, but I did get a sense that I can’t change that we’re a big market and I can’t change that we’re in the east.
“So that was something that, presentation or not, might be a difficult thing to overcome. But we would see. Then I got the unfortunate news today that we were out of the picture. That does not mean that anybody east coast and anybody big market is out of the picture. I can’t speak for them. But I did get a feel that we were in jeopardy when I got praise on the presentation, but it felt like I was getting prepared for something that was coming that I wasn’t going to want to hear.”
In addition to the Yankees, Ohtani eliminated the rival Red Sox, Boston GM Dave Dombrowski confirmed on Sunday night.
Multiple reports suggest the Mets, Minnesota Twins, Oakland Athletics, Milwaukee Brewers, Pittsburgh Pirates, Toronto Blue Jays, Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago White Sox, and Tampa Bay Rays are also out.
It appears the San Francisco Giants and Seattle Mariners are among the teams still alive in the sweepstakes, Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan reported. Ohtani has until Dec. 22 to sign with an MLB club.
The news is the first setback of the Aaron Boone regime. The 44-year-old was reportedly hired on Friday to be the Yankees’ next manager. An Ohtani signing would have killed two birds with one stone for the Bombers, who may need some tinkering to become a serious favorite to win the World Series in 2018. Cashman will now try to figure out another way to bolster the starting rotation and add another power bat to the lineup.