What does Angels, Mariners adding international bonus money for Shohei Ohtani pursuit mean?

Two of the seven finalists for Shohei Ohtani acted Wednesday night to sweeten the financial incentive for the Japanese two-way star, but still trail the Rangers when it comes to available international signing bonus money.

The Los Angeles Angels and Seattle Mariners each acquired another $1 million in room to add to their bonus for Ohtani in trades with Minnesota Twins. The Twins, who had $3.25 million in bonus money before being eliminated by Ohtani’s camp on Sunday, received outfielder Jacob Pearson from Los Angeles and catcher David Banuelos from Seattle in the deal.

It improves the Angels’ bonus pool to $2.315 million and the Mariners to $2.55 million. The Rangers have $3.535 million.  On the surface, it would appear the deals do nothing to further the two teams chances.

A few thoughts and theories on these deals:

—  They are trying to go the extra mile:One theory is Ohtani’s representation has informed the teams that he really does like what they have to offer and that they are the two finalists, but could they possibly do a little something extra to sweeten the pot? It’s viable. But, if so, wouldn’t one of the teams tried to separate themselves a little more from the other? They both acquired the same amount of money and there is very little difference between their financial offers: A total of $235,000. On the other hand, it’s entirely possible the two teams were operating completely independent of one another and didn’t know the other was in contact with Minnesota or how much they were acquiring.

— They know they are out and moving on: The market is a little more flush with international talent at this time of year than usual. Atlanta’s international scouting scandal made free agents of 12 players (the Angels have reportedly already agreed to terms with former Braves prospect Kevin Maitan).  For all I know the Angels could be adding this money so they have enough international money to sign Maitan without dipping into their 2018-19 pool. Because of the Braves scandal, MLB told teams it could use money remaining from this year’s pool or dip into next year’s pool to sign players, but could not double dip. Also, Cuban outfielder Julio Pablo Martinez is expected to hit the international free agency market before the signing period is over, so they could be positioning themselves to sign him.

— This isn’t over: It’s entirely possible, too, that this was only the first step. There are still teams with bonus slots to trade and there are more than two weeks until the Dec. 22 deadline for Ohtani to sign. Teams, including the Rangers, could continue to add money in that period to try to present Ohtani the best possible financial package.

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