The Seattle Mariners made a deal that could well be aimed at procuring more international bonus pool money that would be used to win the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes.
The Minnesota Twins are helping the Mariners’ Ohtani pursuit by agreeing to send international bonus money to the M’s in exchange for minor league catcher David Banuelos. The Twins announced the deal will send $1 million in bonus funds to the Mariners for the 21-year-old catcher.
This stands to improve Seattle’s chances of signing the Japanese phenom in freeing up additional funding to do so. It’s hard not to look at this as a move meant to improve their chances of landing Ohtani.
Ohtani’s age (23) has made this a unique pursuit that isn’t geared entirely about money, but the M’s having more to spend will certainly help the cause.
Seattle is one of the finalist clubs to land Ohtani, joining the Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, Chicago Cubs, Texas Rangers and San Diego Padres in this derby. Ohtani has already met with the seven finalists — all in a 48-hour stretch — and is now deciding which MLB team to join. That process could take days or weeks, but it’s clear the Mariners are rearranging their international plans to make this landmark signing.
Banuelos played only in short-season A-ball last year. Although, he was a fifth-round Mariners pick this year. Parting with a high draft pick at this point, to some degree, illustrates how serious the Mariners appear to be about bringing Ohtani to the Pacific Northwest.