The Seattle Mariners beefed up their pursuit of Japanese Superstar Shohei Ohtani on Wednesday. The Mariners acquired $1 million of international bonus pool money from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for David Banuelos.
The euphoria on social media was quickly dashed when the Los Angeles Angels, another potential suitor for Ohtani’s services, made a similar deal with the Twins, adding $1 million on int bonus money to their own pool.
The $1 million gives the Mariners $2.56 million to offer Ohtani. This amount is the 2nd highest amongst the final 7 bidders. Money is not the primary motivating factor for Ohtani, but adding money is always good.
To acquire the additional funds, the team parted ways with 2017 5th round pick, David Banuelos. Banuelos, the former Long Beach State catcher, garners high marks for his defense. An incredible release and strong-arm helped him nab 60% of base stealers in his final NCAA season.
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Banuelos got off to a hot start in the Northwest League, but tapered of down the stretch. There is some upside in his bat to be at least an average hitter with a little pop to boot. However; the most likely scenario for Banuelos is a defensive minded backup catcher.
Banuelos is a decent prospect, and the best catching prospect the Mariners had. Giving up a potential starter down the road for money that might not matter is a bold move.
The money might not ultimately sway Ohtani’s choice, but it could end up helping elsewhere. Should the Mariners miss out on Ohtani, the extra funds can still be spent on the remaining international prospect. The Braves lost their entire Int Free Agent class.
There are also a few Cuban options available, including the intriguing Julio Pablo Martinez.
Whether or not this money woos Ohtani or other prospects to Seattle will ultimately determine it’s value. But GM Jerry Dipoto is going all in, and taking the risk to land one of the few players that can save his franchise.