Cleveland Indians are not among final teams interviewing Shohei Otani

TOKYO, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 19: Starting pitcher Shohei Otani
TOKYO, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 19: Starting pitcher Shohei Otani /

The Cleveland Indians were never expected to sign Japanese star Shohei Otani, but now it’s official. The Tribe won’t be interview the phenom.

The Cleveland Indians never really had a shot to land Shoehei Otani, aka, “Japan’s Babe Ruth.” And now, it’s confirmed. The Tribe is not one of the seven teams to land an interview with the overseas star.

Shohei Otani is said to be a franchise altering star. That won’t matter in Cleveland.

The Indians are not one of the seven teams being floated around as a finalist for Otani’s services.

But neither are the Yankees. Ha!

And New York is taking very personally.

The Mariners, Padres, Angels, Dodgers, Giants, Rangers and Cubs are reportedly the front runners to add Otani.

Five of those teams are on the West Coast, which would make it a little easier for Otani to get back to his home country of Japan.

It was interesting to see the Cubs on the list, especially because Otani balked at the idea of playing for the Yankees and Mets. With that said, there’s no denying the star power the Cubs pack right now. They figure to compete for the foreseeable future and possess one of the game’s best baseball minds in Theo Epstein.

OK, but this is is a Cleveland blog, so back to the Tribe. The Indians had about $10,000 to offer Otani, so they were never a serious contender.

As scribe Paul Hoynes pointed out, the Tribe opted to sign other international free agents instead of putting all of their eggs in the Otani basket.

Instead, the Tribe inked outfielder George Valera ($1.3 million) and Venezuelan shortstop Aaron Bracho ($1.5 million) to contracts. The average Tribe fan has never heard of these gentlemen, but baseball insiders have.

"“ rated them 21 and 22, respectively, on its top 30 international prospect list. Baseball America rated Valera No.5 and Branco No. 17 on its list,” Hoynes wrote."

So while Otani won’t roaming the corner of Carnegie and Ontario next eason, the Indians came out of the international signing period with some gifted free agents.

My guess is that Otani lands on the west coast. Comfort is something that appears to be important to the phenom.

San Diego should be viewed as the front runner just because Otani is probably the most familiar with their organization.

The good news for the Tribe in all of this? At least Otani is not signing with a division rival. The Twins have over $3 million left in their international pool money, and because of this, it was thought they’d have have chance at signing Otani.

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But, the signing bonus doesn’t appear to matter to this kid as much as location does.