BOSTON (CBS) — Japanese free agent Shohei Ohtani is getting closer to signing with a major league team, but a curious wrinkle has been added to the latest rumors of his preferences. The MLB Network’s Jon Morosi tweeted on Friday morning that multiple execs believe Ohtani prefers to join a team that doesn’t already have a Japanese star on the roster.
Ohtani’s reps have not commented on the execs’ assertions, according to Morosi. Ohtani’s odd preference is potentially a positive development for the Red Sox, who currently have no Japanese players on their roster. The Yankees may have trouble signing him, since they already have pitcher Masahiro Tanaka. The Cubs, Angels, and Rangers, however, have both been reported to be interested in Ohtani’s services.
One of the most unique free agents to come along in some time, Ohtani is billed as a two-way star with the potential to excel as both a starting pitcher and a hitter. His weekly routine as a major leaguer could include three days in the lineup and a day on the mound, with two days of rest and preparation between starts.
As a hitter he’s been compared to Curtis Granderson, while as a pitcher he’s drawn comparisons to Justin Verlander. The Red Sox may need him more for his bat than his arm, but Granderson-esque power would certainly fill their biggest need this offseason.
There will be a $20 million posting fee in order to negotiate a deal with the 23-year-old Ohtani. The Red Sox still have plenty of competition for him, but if his preferences are accurate, the division rival Yankees are presumably out of the race.