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Some MLB teams feel 'played' by Shohei Ohtani's decision-making process

Some MLB teams are annoyed at how Shohei Otani is deciding where he’ll sign. (AP Photo)

With every passing hour, Shohei Ohtani grows a little closer to making what is likely the most important decision of his life. He’s been careful at every step, inviting every MLB team to submit answers to a questionnaire, narrowing down his choices, and then meeting with the final seven teams.

The decision he’s about to make will affect the rest of his life, but according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, some executives around MLB are annoyed and frustrated with Ohtani’s process.

Execs from other rejected East Coast teams wonder privately why they worked so hard on their presentations when Ohtani’s finalists were five West Coast clubs, plus two from the middle of the country, the Rangers and Cubs. Officials from other clubs fear Ohtani’s jam-packed meeting schedule might be something of a charade, with even some finalists questioning if they are being “played.”

It’s really hard to look at these complaints as anything but sour grapes. Especially since Ohtani will sign for pennies on the dollar, a fraction of what he’s actually worth.

In reality, these frustrated executives are probably annoyed they don’t have complete control of the process, as they do in the draft. It’s the same reason teams don’t like free agency or no-trade clauses. All they want is control over every aspect of their players, and when they don’t get — i.e. when players are allowed to decide for themselves — they get cranky. They only feel “played” because they’re not the ones in control — Ohtani is dictating the terms.

These complaining executives look pretty unsympathetic. They had a shot to sign one of the most exciting players in years, they took it, and it didn’t work. They can complain that it wasn’t fair, but I’m not sure where they got the impression that it had to be fair. Ohtani is a human being, and he was willing to be moved by the pitch of an East Coast team, but it didn’t happen. He’s not a robot. He has preferences just like anyone else. If executives of East Coast teams were worried that they weren’t going to be considered equally among the West Coast teams, they didn’t have to participate in this process.

If anyone, including MLB executives, needs to be reminded of what’s at stake here, Yahoo Sports’ own Jeff Passan put it all in context on Wednesday.


No matter how executives may feel, no matter how much they think this is going to change and help their team, there is still a human being at the heart of this. Ohtani is trying to make a decision that will completely change his entire life. If executives are annoyed at how he’s doing it, that’s just too bad.

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Liz Roscher is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at lizroscher@yahoo.com or follow her on twitter! Follow @lizroscher