The Cincinnati Reds used Shohei Ohtani as a test run for the attracting other Asian stars.
The Cincinnati Reds did not make the list of finalists for Shohei Ohtani. They made a complete presentation,though, just in case. Because the Reds had spent so much last year on international signings, they only had $300,000 for Ohtani.
As the scout for Asia and the Pacific Rim, Rob Fidler had to determine Ohtani’s potential interest. The Reds thought that other teams weren’t ready to sell Ohtani on their organization. The real goal, though, was to complete a test run for potential future Asian stars.
They completed due diligence for Ohtani, though, as general manager, Dick Williams, went to Japan to watch him pitch. That was as much a signal that they Reds have an interest in Japanese talent in general, as their interest in Ohtani. Meanwhile, the administrative team in Cincinnati was constructing a sales package to woo the star pitcher.
The package included a book and an iPad with videos pre-loaded. The Reds showed the 1975 World Series. It also included speeches from Hall of Fame shortstop Barry Larkin and current Reds’ first baseman Joey Votto.
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The Reds even went to the trouble to plan out a six man rotation. With that research done they could still use it in 2018. Of course, they claim that they won’t.
With Shohei Ohtani off to the Los Angeles Angels, the Cincinnati Reds are looking at other Asian free agents.
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Yoshihisa Hirano was another pitcher coming over from Japan. He is a reliever with 143 career saves and an ERA of 2.62. Because of his age and contract status, he is not eligible for a posting fee.
While the Reds appeared to have interest in the right-hander, the Arizona Diamondbacks signed him to a two-year deal. The hitch may have been the signing bonus. Even though there is no posting fee, the Reds are still limited to that $300,000 signing bonus for any international signing that they make this off-season.
Miles Mikolas also returned to the states from Japan. He went 14-8 in 2017 with an ERA of 2.25 over 188 innings. The Saint Louis Cardinals signed him in the hope that Mikolas can replace departed starter, Lance Lynn.
This entire focus on Ohtani by the Reds is based on the belief that they can be actors in Asia, if the signing bonus isn’t a determining factor. This could be true as Cincinnati and their fans are much more like the Japanese than most of America. If you play hard and respect the fans, then you will be respected and cheered.