Cincinnati Reds could complete sign and trade for Shohei Ohtani

(Photo by Masterpress/Getty Images)
(Photo by Masterpress/Getty Images) /

Despite not having a competitive offer ready for Shohei Ohtani, the Cincinnati Reds continue to scout and court him.

The Cincinnati Reds have a $300,000 cap on any international signings because they are in maximum penalty.  The bad news for the Reds is that the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankess are out of the limited period.  The good news is that the Los Angeles Angels and the Tampa Bay Rays are also off the limited list.

The Reds have never signed a player directly out of Japan.  Ohtani is a generational player as he projects like both Masahiro Tanaka and Ichiro Suzuki.  He projects as a middle of the rotation starter and a good enough hitter to platoon at DH or contribute on a daily basis as a pinch-hitter.

The posting fee for Ohtani is equal to about a season’s worthy of first baseman Joey Votto’s salary.  While that sounds exorbitant, it isn’t.  MLB teams are generally flush with cash due to the national television contracts combined with the salary cap rules.

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That Reds’ General Manager Dick Williams travelled to see Ohtani pitch in Japan says plenty about the Reds’ interest.  They may see something else as injuries forced Ohtani off of the mound and into the batter’s box this season.  In 2016 Ohtani went 1-4 with an ERA of 1.86 and a WHIP of 0.96.   

The Cincinnati Reds have the young talent to make a high end trade possible with an American League team.

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MLB is very reluctant to let teams buy talent.  Whenever teams exchange cash in a trade the commissioner’s office takes a close look.  There is a way around that.

Both LA and Tampa Bay are thin at top end talent close to the majors.  The Reds have an excess in both position players and starting pitchers that are close to MLB ready.  That means if one of those teams wants to pay the $20-million posting fee and sign Ohtani, they could trade him to the Reds.

The Angels would want something to support outfielder Mike Trout.  Sending them Billy Hamilton, Scooter Gennett and a few pitchers could get Ohtani.  If the Angels don’t do more to support Trout, then they should have traded him last off-season.

The Rays want less expensive options.  Jesse Winker and either Tyler Stephenson or Blake Trahan project as the cornerstones for the OBP-centric franchise.  The Rays also would want to add a handful of pitchers with guys like Amir Garrett and Jackson Stephens near the top of their list.

Next: Are the Reds getting ready to move?

Ohtani interests the Reds.  The Red Sox and Yankees are looming.  However, the other teams with international signing bonus room will do it, if the price is right.