How adding Dee Gordon improved the Mariners’ chances of landing Shohei Ohtani

On Thursday, the Seattle Mariners made a creative deal, acquiring second baseman Dee Gordon and international bonus money from the Miami Marlins in exchange for three prospects (here’s a closer look at how the Marlins made out in the deal).

The Mariners intend to shift Gordon to center field, where his elite speed could in time make him a fierce defender. But, while that aspect is likely to demand most of the attention, there’s another part of the trade worth highlighting: the impact the deal could have on the Mariners’ pursuit of Japanese two-way phenom and top-ranked free-agent Shohei Ohtani.

By adding $1 million from the Marlins in the trade, the Mariners now have the most money to offer Ohtani:

Obviously Ohtani doesn’t seem primarily motivated by money — otherwise he wouldn’t be coming to the majors now when he could’ve waited a few years and hit the open market without restriction — but it probably can’t hurt the Mariners’ case that they have the most to offer. At minimum, it could serve as the tiebreaker if Ohtani is picking between two clubs.

The Mariners are one of seven clubs who Ohtani granted an in-person interview. His decision will have to be made by December 23, but could come at any time. The Mariners have previously stated their willingness to let him pitch and serve as the DH, thereby moving Nelson Cruz to the outfield when necessary. 

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