The New York Yankees are not one of the finalists for Japanese star Shohei Ohtani, who has started scheduling meetings with teams for this week that are expected to decide where the ultimate free-agent prize of the offseason lands, sources familiar with the situation told Yahoo Sports.
The 23-year-old Ohtani, a star pitcher and hitter who must sign with a major league team by Dec. 22, has begun informing finalists of their meetings, which could run from this Tuesday to Friday. Among those believed to have meetings: The San Francisco Giants, who are making a simultaneous run at trading for National League MVP Giancarlo Stanton, and the Seattle Mariners, who have mobilized players to help recruit Ohtani, according to sources.
'Babe Ruth of Japan' Shohei Ohtani
'Babe Ruth of Japan' Shohei Ohtani
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - AUGUST 31: Shohei Otani of Japan pitches in the second inning during the 18U Baseball World Championship Group B match between Canada and Japan at Mokdong Stadium on August 31, 2012 in Seoul, South Korea. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - AUGUST 31: Shohei Otani of Japan reacts in the third inning during the 18U Baseball World Championship Group B match between Canada and Japan at Mokdong Stadium on August 31, 2012 in Seoul, South Korea. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN - MARCH 21: (L-R) Shohei Otani of Nipponham and Former New York Yankee player Hideki Matsui and Seiji Kobayashi of Giants pose for photographers during the Tomodachi Charity Baseball Game on March 21, 2015 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Koji Watanabe/Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 10: Shohei Otani of Japan bats during the international friendly match between Japan and Mexico at the Tokyo Dome on November 10, 2016 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Sports Nippon/Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 12: Shohei Ohtani #16 of Japan is seen during the warm-up ahead of the international friendly match between Japan and Netherlands at the Tokyo Dome on November 12, 2016 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Masterpress/Getty Images)
SAPPORO, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 08: Starting pitcher Shohei Otani #16 throws in the top of first inning during the WBSC Premier 12 match between Japan and South Korea at the Sapporo Dome on November 8, 2015 in Sapporo, Japan. (Photo by Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images)
Japan's Shohei Ohtani follows a double in the seventh inning during the international friendly baseball match between Japan and the Netherlands at the Tokyo Dome on November 13, 2016. / AFP / KAZUHIRO NOGI (Photo credit should read KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 10: Designated hitter Shohei Ohtani (L) #16 of Japan and Infielder Adrian Gonzalez (R) #23 of Mexico shake hands during a practice session prior to the international friendly match between Japan and Mexico at the Tokyo Dome on November 10, 2016 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Masterpress/Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 11: Designated hitter Shohei Ohtani #16 of Japan hits a double in the first inning during the international friendly match between Mexico and Japan at the Tokyo Dome on November 11, 2016 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Masterpress/Getty Images)
Japan's Nippon Ham Fighters pitcher and slugger Shohei Otani attends a news conference to announce his ambitions to be a major leaguer, at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo, Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo November 11, 2017. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. JAPAN OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN JAPAN.
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Yankees general manager Brian Cashman confirmed to reporters that Ohtani told the Yankees he would not sign with them. New York had accumulated the second-most international free agent money, which will be used to sign Ohtani, as major league rules limit the amount he can receive.
The winning team will put up a $20 million posting fee, and Ohtani will enter the 2018 season making the major league minimum of $545,000. For that, the team will get a right-handed pitcher whose fastball has been clocked as high as 102 mph and whose left-handed swing regularly walloped home runs for the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters.
Whether Ohtani ends up with an American League team, which could use him as a designated hitter during his days not pitching, or an NL team, which would play him in a corner-outfield spot, the fight for him is just getting started, and the meetings next week could land a team a player who in true free agency would reap $200 million for pennies on the dollar.