By: Tom Cloutier
The Japanese baseball phenom is planning his move to the MLB for the 2018 season. This decision means he will forfeit the chance for a major signing bonus due to restrictions limiting the amount of money international players can sign for before the age of 25. The Red Sox can offer him a maximum bonus of $462,000, the 11th highest in the league. Clearly, Ohtani's motives aren't fueled by money. If he waited two more years to hop across the pond, he could be in for an historic payday. To make it even more explicit that his own development as a player is paramount, his agent released a questionnaire that any team interested in signing him must fill out. While Dombrowski (hopefully) has his attention fixed on securing Stanton, I've been picking up the slack around the office. I took the liberty of filling out the questionnaire on behalf of the Boston Red Sox:
An evaluation of Ohtani's pitching and hitting ability
100+ mph of cheddar and a devastating slider and splitter to boot. Oh, and a career slash line (.286/.358/.500) comparable to the career numbers of the 2016 AL MVP runner-up, and potential future teammate, Mookie Betts (.292/.351/.488). I wonder if he can bowl like Mookie, too.
In 2016, Ohtani won the Best 9 award as both a pitcher and designated hitter, the first player ever to do so. He's completely dominant on both ends of the 60'6" exchange. His two-way prowess is akin to Michael Jordan in 1988 winning the NBA scoring title and defensive player of the year award. That's some superstar stuff.
An explanation of the team's player development, medical training and player performance philosophies
Devers, Benintendi, Betts, Vasquez, Bogaerts, Bradley Jr., Pedroia, and Hanley...8 of the 9 members of Red Sox starting lineup came up through the Red Sox farm system. How's that for player development?
Spring training, minor-league and major-league facilities
I haven't taken a tour of any of the Red Sox' minor league facilities recently, but I went to a Sea Dogs and Paw Sox game or two as a kid. Have you ever had a Sea Dog Biscuit? It's a scoop of vanilla ice cream between two chocolate chip cookies and it's orgasmic.
Fenway is indisputably the greatest ballpark in the world. That's got to be a reason it's the most expensive stadium for MLB fans to watch a game, right? It has more history than any other ballpark in the world, with over a century of timeless moments absorbed into the fabled Green Monster.
Details for Ohtani's cultural assimilation
Matsuzaka, Okajima, Tazawa, Uehara...the Red Sox have had at least one Japanese pitcher on the staff for the last decade, until now. The new era starts with you, Shohei Ohtani.
Also, our new manager is bilingual...although that second language is Spanish, not Japanese. But at least we have some kind of culture.
How the team plans to integrate Ohtani into its organization
Probably as a hitter, maybe a pitcher, potentially a coach, possibly an executive. The kid can hit and pitch, who's to say he doesn't have some more tricks up his sleeve. I'd like to put him in a baseball rotational program and give him a shot to perform at every level of the organization. Toss gas one day, hit bombs the next, wander around the crowd in the Wally costume for a few games, spend some time up in the booth next time NESN needs a fill-in color commentator. I want to untap all the potential Ohtani has to offer the Red Sox.
Why the city/franchise is a desirable place to play along with any other relevant "marketplace" characteristics
Welcome to Title Town, baby! I dare you to find a more passionate fan base or a collection of more successful teams housed in one city. The Red Sox are back to back AL east champs, and while they've been bounced in the first round of the playoffs the last two years, Ohtani's dynamic skill set could be the sparkplug the Red Sox need.
Ohtani is the Japanese Babe Ruth? Well, we had the American Babe Ruth! He began his legendary career as the greatest player to ever live under the tutelage of the Boston Red Sox. Granted, we sold him to the Yankees to cover our owner's debts...but we have a lot more money now (not that Ohtani cares).
On paper, the Red Sox shouldn't need Ohtani, but after last year it's evident we need something. With pitching struggling down the stretch and offensive power nowhere to be found all year, this two-in-one package may be the solution.
Image Source: (NY Daily News) (ESPN)