Seattle Mariners rumors: Front-runners for Shohei Ohtani

TOKYO, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 12: Shohei Ohtani
TOKYO, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 12: Shohei Ohtani /
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Seattle Mariners
TOKYO, JAPAN – NOVEMBER 12: Shohei Ohtani /

The Seattle Mariners aren’t the only ones.

Earlier in the day, Bernie Pleskoff tweeted that the Mariners, Giants, and Padres will meet with Ohtani.

According to Jeff Passan, in anticipation of that meeting, the Mariners “have asked multiple players to clear their schedules from Tuesday through Friday next week to potentially come to Los Angeles for a meeting with Shohei Otani.”

One Mariner who won’t be there is Robinson Cano, who recently tweeted that he is on his way to Israel (presumably on vacation and not because he was traded by Jerry Dipoto).

As teams have been eliminated and Ohtani’s preferences are learned, the field has narrowed, and a favorite has moved to the front of the pack. Bob Nightengale tweeted that several MLB GMs have identified the Seattle Mariners as “clear-cut front-runners for Ohtani’s services.”

Fans of the Seattle Mariners haven’t seen a playoff team since 2001, so they are cautiously optimistic at this point. If the competition has been reduced to West Coast teams other than Oakland, along with the Cubs and Rangers, the Mariners, Angels, and Rangers may have an advantage because they play in the American League.

Playing for an AL team would make it easier for Ohtani to get his bat in the lineup in between the games he pitches.

Last year, the DH spot for the Mariners and Angels was locked down by veterans Nelson Cruz and Albert Pujols. They were first and second in baseball in plate appearances as a DH, with 624 and 610, respectively. Cruz played just 28 innings in the field last year. Pujols played 50. The Rangers had three players with 100 or more plate appearances at DH. Shin-Soo Choo had the most, with 294.

The Mariners have already said they would gladly have Cruz play more in the field to get Ohtani’s bat in the lineup. The Angels would likely do the same with Pujols, but both teams would prefer to have them at the DH spot. In 2016, Cruz ranked 25th among 33 right fielders who played 400 or more innings in the fielding metric UZR/150.

He’s a liability on defense. Pujols hasn’t been that bad in the field, but the Angels want him at DH to keep him healthy.