STACY ROST

Why Angels reporter thinks Mariners are on Shohei Ohtani’s shortlist

Jul 14, 2023, 10:58 AM | Updated: Jul 15, 2023, 12:19 pm

Seattle Mariners Shohei Ohtani...

Shohei Ohtani speaks to media during the All-Star break at the Seattle Mariners' T-Mobile Park. (Photo: Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Photo: Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Everyone wants Shohei Ohtani.

The best player in baseball becomes a free agent after this season. While one of the greatest questions heading into the second half of the season is whether the Los Angeles Angels will trade him as a two-month rental – the Angels are reportedly listening to offers now – the collective belief seems to be that Ohtani will hit the market this winter as the most highly-sought free agent ever.

But there’s something no one actually knows: What does Ohtani want?

Further reading: Morosi on the great sales pitch Mariners have for Ohtani

Jeff Fletcher is an Angels beat writer for the SoCal News Group who has covered Ohtani’s career, even authoring the book on Ohtani’s unanimous MVP season, “Sho-Time: The Inside Story of Shohei Ohtani and the Greatest Baseball Season Ever Played.” And he thinks the Seattle Mariners are on the shortlist of teams Ohtani would sign with.

First, let’s cover what we know about Ohtani.

“A lot of people think they know (what he wants), but I think we don’t really,” Fletcher said during an interview Wednesday with Seattle Sports’ Bump and Stacy. “We can kind of look at what he did the first time around, which is he picked (between) basically West Coast teams and the Rangers and Cubs. I think people most still assume that he’d like a West Coast team. I think people assume he wants a team that’s going to be good, obviously because he wants to win. And I think that (he wants) a team that’s not a huge media fishbowl where he’d be getting all kind of criticism and demands on his time and people wanting him to do all these extra interviews and fans booing him if he doesn’t do well. But a lot of this is just assumptions; we don’t know for sure.”

Check a few of those boxes when it comes to Seattle.

It’s on the West Coast.

It’s a smaller media market than LA, Chicago, or any number of East Coast teams.

As far as winning, the Mariners at least broke a two-decade playoff drought last season, have a stellar pitching staff, and one of the best young players in baseball (Julio Rodríguez).

The Seattle Mariners still have plenty to prove – after all, in a season where they were supposed to be a playoff team, they’re only a game above .500 at the All-Star break. But they’re closer than they were years ago. And they – and their fans – have made it clear they want Ohtani.

Related: Ohtani to Mariners? ‘Come To Seattle’ chants catch his attention

Complicating matters are a couple West Coast teams that are closer to contention and now have the ability to bring Ohtani on. The Dodgers and Giants check a few of those boxes off as well, and now the two National League teams have the ability to add a DH. Plus, the Dodgers have more spending power than most teams in baseball.

Despite that, Fletcher still believes Seattle fans can be fairly optimistic.

“I think Seattle’s definitely one of the teams that would be on the shortlist for him. Especially with how they’ve improved lately the last couple years, they look like they can be a good team,” he said. “I think the Mariners were probably the runner-up the first time (when Ohani signed with the Angels ahead of the 2018 season), and it came down to him liking what (then-Angels general manager) Billy Epler and the Angels had to say about the feeling of belonging and the connection that he made to them. But I think definitely fans in Seattle should feel like they have a pretty decent chance.”

Listen to the full Bump and Stacy conversation with Angels beat writer Jeff Fletcher in the podcast at this link or in the player near the top of this post.

More on the Seattle Mariners

Drayer: Will Seattle Mariners return ready for another second-half surge?
Dipoto: ‘Pretty cool’ how Mariners fans chanted for Ohtani
Is Seattle a tough free-agent sell? ESPN’s Ravech, Sciambi weigh in on Mariners
Mariners’ Servais: ‘We have our best baseball yet ahead of us’
Morosi: Where do Seattle Mariners stand with trade deadline nearing?

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