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Mariners reportedly make the first cut in the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes

Shohei Ohtani's market is down to seven teams, most of which are in the western U.S. (AP)

8:30 PT update: Few teams, Mariners included, are acknowledging that they have been selected to travel to LA to meet with Ohtani and his representation. Those who are considered in numerous media reports to be “finalists” are Seattle, San Francisco, Texas, San Diego, LA Dodgers and Chicago Cubs. Jeff Passan reports late that numerous sources believe the Angels to be in the running as well.  

The Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes is moving quickly. Bryan Hoch of reports that the Yankees have been informed they are out of the running. Of bigger interest to Seattle Mariners fans is this:

The Mariners according to Jeff Passan of are very much in the running. General manager Jerry Dipoto’s hope all along is that he – and a very healthy contingent of Mariners personnel – would have the opportunity to have a face-to-face meeting with the superstar from Japan. It appears that will happen. As for the competition, the ball got rolling early with the Yankees being declared out of contention first, and then Boston president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski confirming shortly after that the Red Sox were out. Then came the very interesting nugget from Yankees general manager Brian Cashman.

In addition to the Red Sox and Yankees, there are reports that the Blue Jays, Mets, Pirates, Diamondbacks, Brewers, Twins, Nationals, Cardinals, Rays, White Sox and Athletics have all been informed they are out of the running.

With the questionnaire phase of the process completed, face-to-face meetings will take place next week in Los Angeles. In his weekly podcast, Dipoto said the Mariners have been working on this for the better part of a year now. They have bells, whistles and even a film ready to go, and they have gone so far as to talk to current Mariners this offseason about being ready to join them for the presentation if the opportunity arose. I would imagine Nelson Cruz and others will be getting on planes soon.

Ohtani is facing a Dec. 22 deadline to sign with a team so things are going to move very fast. Teams will meet with Ohtani and his representation this week in Los Angeles. The following week are the baseball winter meetings. I would expect as soon as they are completed, Ohtani would make visits to the two or three finalists on his list.

Buckle up.

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