Ohtani – Oh, No!

Well, that’s a bummer.

After all of the Mariners efforts, Japanese star Shohei Ohtani decided to sign with the division rival Los Angeles Angels. He’ll play alongside Mike Trout, Justin Upton, Andrelton Simmons and Albert Pujols in a star-studded lineup.

This has got to be a crushing blow to Jerry Dipoto and the Mariners, who made it clear from the start that Ohtani was their No. 1 priority. The need for a high-quality starting pitcher continues for Seattle.

Dipoto did improve the lineup on Thursday, trading three prospects to the Marlins in exchange for two-time all-star Dee Gordon. A former Gold Glove winner at second base, Gordon will be moved to center field where the Mariners believe his blazing speed will become a defensive asset.

In the attempt to sign Ohtani, the Mariners acquired $3.5 million in International Signing Cap money. They have until June 15th to spend it, if they choose. The cap space doesn’t carry over to next year, but they don’t have to spend it – heck, Dipoto might trade it away. The available players are essentially a picked-over group of teenagers from the Dominican and Venezuela, and a Cuban defector of some intrigue named Julio Pablo Martinez. There is the group players who were recently granted free agency in the Atlanta Braves scandal, but the top prospects among them have already signed with other teams.

The Winter Meetings officially start on Monday, but action will begin on Sunday as teams land in Orlando. I expect a lot of news this year, due to the slow start to free agency – and now we may have an enraged Dipoto making a dozen transactions in three days!

A couple of Rainiers-related notes: the Mariners claimed reliever Mike Morin off waivers today. He’s been an up-and-down guy with the Angels and Salt Lake the last couple of seasons. I’m not sure if he has an option year remaining.

On his podcast yesterday, Dipoto said that the Mariners are going to look at recently acquired lefty Sam Moll as a starting pitcher in spring training. Moll was a starter in college but was quickly converted to relief by the Rockies once his pro career began. We’ll tentatively pencil Moll into the Tacoma rotation.

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