PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) - He's one of, if not the most coveted player ever to come out of Japan, and Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington told The Starkey and Mueller Show that the Pirates are all-in on trying to obtain the services of Shohei Ohtani.
When asked if the Pirates will be active in the free agent market, Huntington said, "The most obvious one is Ohtani," who is a player the GM says all 30 clubs will have interest in.
Adding to that, Huntington said, "We are going to do everything in our power, and hopefully, have him honor us with the ability to get beyond the written presentation, get beyond the initial 30-club presentation and really dig into why it would be an honor for us to have him become a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates. This great fan base that we have, the facilities that we have, the history that we have here, why we think we would be a great fit for him, and we will absolutely do everything in our power to bring him here. On the field, we had a lot of success with Jung Ho Kang, we have a lot of young, international players that have transitioned well, and we believe we can help this young man become a superstar over here."
The 23-year-old Ohtani is viewed as the rare double-threat that can both hit and pitch as he carried a .332 average last year with eight home runs and 31 RBIs in 65 games while also starting five games and registering a 3.20 ERA over 25.1 innings pitched.
In 2016, Ohtani appeared in 21 games as a pitcher going 10-4 with a 1.86 ERA over 140 innings pitched.
Huntington added that aside from Ohtani, they'll be monitoring the rest of the free agent market to "get this club back to a postseason as consistently and frequently as possible."
Looking at that goal of getting back to the postseason, Huntington also shared some insight into the way the team views the futures of Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole playing out as there have been reports that teams are calling in attempts to acquire the two top talents.
"Get used to the reports because you see them in every city, every year, every offseason as we head into the Winter Meetings. That's just the nature of the beast," he said.
Huntington elaborated on their status, saying, "We fully recognize that our best 2018 offensive club has Andrew McCutchen in that lineup and Gerrit Cole in our rotation, but again, as I just said before, we will have to make some hard decisions for an organization as we go forward. We've had to make some in the past, so for me to make a blanket yes-or-no statement doesn't make a ton of sense, but we do recognize that sitting here today, our best club has those two players on it, but what about the best club in '19, '20, '21 and beyond, so those are hard questions to answer."
When asked if there is anybody on their roster that is untouchable, Huntington said, "There are players that are easier to move, there are players that are harder to move. I'm not sure any small market team, really any mid-market team can go through a situation and say, 'Hey, if they brought us 10 of the best prospects in the game, we wouldn't move player X.' So untouchable is a hard one to define. We have guys that we really anticipate being part of our future, but as we will do every offseason in the future, as we've done every offseason in the past, our ambition, our intent, our goal, our desire is to put this organization to play in the postseason as consistently and frequently and possible, and some times those include hard decisions."
Click the audio at the top of the post to hear more from Huntington on all of this plus Jung Ho Kang and Starling Marte's struggles in winter ball, what they're doing this offseason to try and ensure Gregory Polanco and Francisco Cervelli stay healthy next year, where they see Tyler Glasnow fitting in at the start of the 2018 season and if they have any interest in bringing Neil Walker back.
for more features.