A 23-year-old became the most sought-after baseball player last year when he announced he would leave Japan to play in the US. Shohei Ohtani was already a phenomenon. Able to pitch and hit – a skillset as rare as hens’ teeth in the game and infinitely more prized – league rules limiting his initial pay guaranteed whichever team landed him an absolute bargain.
The intrigue intensified when Ohtani’s agent sent all 30 Major League teams a list of questions he wanted answered in English and Japanese, from which just seven were asked to deliver a two-hour presentation. At the end, Ohtani made the surprise decision to sign with the Los Angeles Angels.