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After ruling out several teams, Japanese star Shohei Ohtani expected to meet with Dodgers

After ruling out several teams, Japanese star Shohei Ohtani expected to meet with Dodgers
Shohei Ohtani appears to prefer to play for a small-market team in the majors near the West Coast. (Getty Images)

The Dodgers and Angels are expected to meet with Shohei Ohtani this week as the recruitment of the Japanese two-way star intensifies, according to people familiar with the situation.

The Dodgers and Angels are believed to be on a short list of clubs who drew Ohtani's interest, and he appears to prefer West Coast destinations. The meetings will be held in Los Angeles and are expected to include discussions with the Padres, Mariners, Giants, Rangers and Cubs.

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The sweepstakes entered a new stage on Sunday as Ohtani's representatives from CAA begin trimming the list of teams still in the running to sign him. Two weeks ago, Ohtani's camp had sent a questionnaire to all 30 teams asking for an initial proposal as a first step in the negotiations. After sifting through the paperwork, the cuts began.

Headlining the list of jilted suitors were the Yankees, who many in the baseball industry viewed as the favorites to land Ohtani. Despite a lengthy track record with Japanese stars, the Yankees could not overcome their location, general manager Brian Cashman told reporters.

"I know that our presentation was excellent," Cashman said. "The feedback from that was outstanding. But I did get a sense that I can't change that we're a big market and I can't change we're in the East."

The Yankees were joined by the Red Sox, Nationals, Mets, Twins, Pirates, Brewers, Diamondbacks and Athletics among teams no longer in the running.

Ohtani was posted by the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters on Friday. He must finalize a contract by Dec. 22. Money is not expected to be his primary interest. By leaving Japan at 23, Ohtani can only sign a standard major-league rookie contract, and his signing bonus cannot exceed $3.535 million.

The Dodgers can only offer Ohtani a $300,000 bonus. The Angels can offer a $1.31 million bonus.

Times staff writers Dylan Hernandez and Pedro Moura contributed to this report.

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