Mariners, Angels Make Dueling Trades for Bonus Money in Pursuit of Ohtani

This Shohei Ohtani business just keeps getting curiouser and curiouser. As of Tuesday evening, it was thought that Ohtani had only hosted six teams and would be holding his meeting with the Padres, the last of the seven teams on his list, on Wednesday. But Jeff Passan tweeted mid-Wednesday afternoon that the final meeting had actually taken place Tuesday night.

With me so far? Basically, no one really knows what is going on.

There was very little news following Passan’s nugget, but then all hell started breaking loose among two of the three suitors with more than the $300,000 spending cap. Here’s the nutshell version:

To quote Dana Carvey’s version of Johnny Carson (sorry, under-40 crowd), this is some weird, wild stuff. I can’t figure out whether it means the two teams in question have been informed that they’ve moved on to the next round and they’re simply preparing themselves, or whether Ohtani’s camp has actually told them to make their best offers.

But that all seems so strange given the very nature of Ohtani’s move to MLB, which hasn’t been at all predicated on money. The man is giving up hundreds of millions of dollars rather than wait two years and four of his seven finalists — the Cubs, Dodgers, Padres, and Giants — are hard-capped by a $300,000 bonus restriction. To make it about the money now seems insanely petty, especially when we’re only talking about a million dollars. Or $235,000, which is the difference between the Mariners and Angels.

Except that was the gap in their bonus pools prior to the twin Twins trades, so there was really no advantage gained. In that, this has the feeling of a poker game in which one player is calling the other’s bluff. One of them is going to lose out on both Ohtani and a highly drafted player.

I joked that the Twins were like that guy in a fantasy league who misses the playoffs and drops all the good players on his roster into the free agent pool for anyone else to grab. It’s a crude analogy, but fits for the idea of the pool money they’d presumably saved for Ohtani now being fungible. In the end, they came out big winners by picking up a pair of prospects.

At this point, no one has any clue as to what in the blue hell is going on, but I can tell you this: I’m actually going to be disappointed when it’s over. This whole thing has been like a TV series that you fall in love with and binge-watch. Getting to the end is bittersweet because you know you can’t follow it any longer. And then comes word that the main character has been spun off into a new show and you’re just hoping it lives up to the hype.

It’s kinda like Frasier after Cheers. Which, hey, didn’t that take place in Seattle?

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