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.
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.
More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports: