The Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes is down to 29 teams. It appears the Miami Marlins have taken themselves out of the race for the Japanese superstar due to financial concerns, according to Tim Healey of the Sun Sentinel.
The news comes as a huge surprise, as the Marlins had a fair amount of international free-agent money to spend on the 23-year-old. Miami was one of the seven teams that had over $1 million in their international free-agent budget to spend on Ohtani.
That’s actually a significant amount, in this case. The new collective-bargaining agreement restricts excessive spending on international free agents. Each team is given a budget. If they exceed that limit, they are subject to steep fines by the league.
At $3.5 million, the Texas Rangers have the biggest budget for Ohtani this offseason. The Marlins ranked fifth with $1.7 million left in their budget at the beginning of November. The team did trade some of that money to the New York Yankees, but still had a fair amount of money left to spend.
That’s not the figure the team is concerned about, though. The Marlins are reportedly not willing to pay Ohtani’s $20 million posting fee. The club that wins his services will have to pay $20 million to the Nippon Ham-Fighters, Ohtani’s Japanese league team, for the right to negotiate with him.
That fee is not considered a major obstacle for most clubs. Once Ohtani reaches the majors, he would make the minimum salary, just like any other rookie. Considering how much that will depress his salary, Ohtani is currently viewed as a massive bargain.
Had Ohtani been a free-agent, some believe he would have received $200 million. The Marlins are passing on a $200 million player because they don’t want to spend $20 million.
The decision to pass on a player some are calling the Japanese Babe Ruth, due to his ability to thrive as a two-way player, is in line with the team’s puzzling offseason. The new Marlins ownership group, led by Derek Jeter, has not gotten off to an encouraging start.
Since taking over, Jeter has fired franchise icons, oversaw the departure of one of the club’s beloved broadcaster and even fired a long-time scout while he was in the hospital recovering from surgery.
The move further calls the new ownership group’s finances into question. Just a few months after taking over the team, the ownership group was reportedly looking for more investors. Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports acquired documents showing the club’s pitch to potential investors. It’s believed the Marlins are looking to raise $250 million.
The team has also made it clear it’s looking to cut payroll this winter. Slugger Giancarlo Stanton is on the trade block, and the team hasn’t exactly given him reasons to want to stick around. Even if Stanton returns, the team intends to sell off spare parts in an effort to rebuild.
You would think picking up a 23-year-old potential superstar who would make the league-minimum and be under team-control for six seasons would fit in with that plan. The Marlins apparently don’t see it that way.
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