Now that Shohei Ohtani has handed out the final rose to the Angels, we can take a look at the teams that didn’t end up with the biggest catch of the offseason.
While it’s impossible to know right now what the Mariners’ contingent said to Ohtani and his team behind closed doors, we do know what Seattle did externally to make this deal happen. To add insult to the injury of him turning down Seattle’s overtures, Ohtani opted for a division rival instead. Rough times, Mariners.
Below, a brief recap of everything the Mariners did in the last few weeks to try and make space for Ohtani in their system and prove to him that the M’s were his new home in America.
- Traded three prospects to the Marlins for Dee Gordon and international bonus money
- Traded David Banuelos to the Twins for international bonus money
- Re-signed Hisashi Iwakuma to a minor league contract with an invite to spring training (maybe as a recruiting chip for Ohtani, possibly not, since Iwakuma has been with the Mariners, anyway)
Add to that the fact that Seattle is a (relatively) smaller market on the West Coast, as it initially appeared Ohtani wanted, and it looked like the Mariners had this one in the bag. Or were at least on the cusp of convincing him. There was even talk of Jerry Dipoto “not taking no for an answer” when it came to Ohtani’s final choice.
Again, we can’t know what went on behind the scenes. Maybe they were on the cusp and the Angels solidified the “bond” he feels with their organization at the last minute.
But right now it looks like Dipoto gutted the Mariners’ (already relatively weak) prospect pool, put his best convincing hat on, acquired enough international bonus pool money to have the most of any finalist, and still couldn’t get the job done. Furthermore, they not only have to play Ohtani nearly 20 times next season, but it was Dipoto’s former employer that swooped him and stole him away.
In the end, it was Ohtani’s decision. We do have to remember that. This wasn’t a group of seven teams competing to rescue Ohtani from the high castle that he was trapped in. He chose to come to an MLB team this year, and he made a measured and informed decision based on a process where every team got to make a case and then some.
So maybe there was simply nothing Dipoto could have done to get Ohtani to sign in Seattle. Maybe it’s not technically his fault. But with all of Dipoto’s bragging about bringing his “A game” to the negotiating table and the moves the Mariners made, this reflects poorly on his efforts.
Their prospect pool is even thinner than before, which seemed impossible. The Mariners are running out of people to trade, and while Dee Gordon could work out as a great deal for both sides, that’s also not a slam dunk by any means with him moving to the outfield.
Now, Dipoto and the front office will not only have to find another starting pitcher to make up for losing out on Ohtani, but whoever they land will have to be big enough for fans to forget that they came so close to landing the biggest fish and fell short.
The good news is Dipoto has millions of dollars in international bonus pool money sitting around that he has to spend by June, and there’s no way that won’t be entertaining! Hell, sign some former Braves’ prospects, Jerry, you can make this work.
The Angels just orchestrated the setup for a major 2018 turnaround, and now Dipoto has to do the same. Will his endless confidence and trade trigger finger be enough to do it? It didn’t work out here and now the Mariners are facing even stiffer competition in their division and they have fewer assets with which to maneuver through it all.