The question is, where is Ohtani headed? We predict that he will be joining one of these eight teams.
As we bid adieu to the 2023 season and prepare for the scorching Hot Stove, let’s closely examine the noteworthy players who are poised to enter free agency.
Name: Shohei Ohtani Position: Designated Hitter/Starting Pitcher Team: Los Angeles Angels Age: 29 years old (as of Opening Day 2024) 2023 Statistics: – Batting Average: .304 – On-Base Percentage: .412 – Slugging Percentage: .654 – Home Runs: 44 – Runs Batted In: 95 – Runs Scored: 102 – On-base Plus Slugging: 184 (OPS+) Pitching: – Record: 10-5 – Earned Run Average: 3.14 – Innings Pitched: 132 – Strikeouts: 167 – Walks and Hits per Innings Pitched: 1.061 (WHIP) – Adjusted Earned Run Average: 142 (ERA+)
Ever since his arrival in the Major Leagues in 2018, Ohtani has consistently shattered our preconceived notions of what a baseball player can achieve. With an All-Star slugger commanding the plate, an All-Star pitcher exerting dominance on the mound, and a level of attraction unparalleled in history, Ohtani emerges as a genuine unicorn in the sport, surpassing expectations once thought impossible.
The upcoming winter was surely going to revolve entirely around Ohtani, whose free agency was poised to shatter contract records by an absolutely astounding margin. Ohtani, despite undergoing his second Tommy John surgery in September, won’t be able to pitch in 2024. Nevertheless, he is anticipated to recommence his two-way play starting in ’25.
Despite undergoing surgery, Ohtani’s exceptional offensive skills alone render him the premier free agent of the offseason, deserving of an unparalleled contract. The moment of truth is upon us as numerous teams prepare to present their compelling cases to secure the highly anticipated American League Most Valuable Player for their own. The stage is set to discover the fortunate destination of this exceptional player.
These are the potential suitors listed alphabetically.
The decision was made by the Angels not to trade Ohtani before the Trade Deadline last summer, indicating their intention to retain their superstar in Los Angeles. GM Perry Minasian has emphasized the importance of re-signing Ohtani, making it the club’s utmost priority. However, with other pressing roster needs to be addressed this offseason, it remains uncertain if the Angels will be willing to spend whatever is necessary to retain him. Ohtani’s primary focus has always been on winning, which led the Angels to take a calculated risk by trading for reinforcements in their quest for a postseason berth. Unfortunately, this gamble did not yield the desired results and ultimately proved to be counterproductive. It is the Angels’ only certainty – they will definitely be extending a qualifying offer to Ohtani. This move will secure them Draft pick compensation in case Ohtani decides to sign with another team.
During the past winter, the Dodgers primarily observed other teams making significant moves in free agency. This led to speculation that they were conserving their resources, intending to make a substantial investment in Ohtani this upcoming winter. Although Ohtani appears to be at ease in Southern California, one can ponder whether he would embrace the idea of relocating just 30 miles north on I-5 to partake in the exhilarating ambiance of Dodger Stadium. The inclusion of Ohtani in the team, alongside the exceptional talents of Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman, would undeniably elevate the potency of an already formidable Dodgers roster to unprecedented levels of dominance.
Last winter, the Giants made bold moves by pursuing top free agents. However, their efforts were in vain as they witnessed Aaron Judge’s return to the Yankees and Carlos Correa’s arrival in San Francisco being hindered by a physical issue. It wouldn’t come as a surprise if the Giants made efforts to acquire Ohtani. He would bring the impactful hitting ability that the team desires, similar to Judge, and fill the void left by Buster Posey’s departure, as a remarkable “face of the franchise” figure. The Giants’ chances of winning the National League West would receive a significant boost if they were to sign Ohtani. Furthermore, this move would prevent the slugger from joining the rival Dodgers.
During the All-Star Game, Mariners fans enthusiastically embraced the opportunity to persuade Ohtani to join their team, launching impromptu “Come to Seattle!” chants whenever he stepped up to the plate. Could the Mariners join the Ohtani sweepstakes? The team already has a significant financial commitment of $80 million annually for Julio Rodríguez, Luis Castillo, Robbie Ray, and J.P. It is not unreasonable to think that the Mariners could go all-in on Ohtani, although it may affect Crawford.
Last summer, the Mets didn’t hold back during the Trade Deadline as they traded away key players like Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander. However, it seems like New York is determined to dive headfirst into free agency, aiming to make a comeback and secure a spot in the postseason. Steve Cohen, the owner, possesses the necessary financial resources to afford any salary Ohtani desires. It is rumored that the Mets have a strong admiration for pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto, but acquiring him through posting will likely require a price tag exceeding $200 million. It remains uncertain if Ohtani leans towards staying on the West Coast, as some speculations suggest. However, if the Mets desire his talents greatly, it is hard to envision anyone surpassing Cohen’s bidding power.
Prefer Padres? Are you even watching? San Diego has emerged as one of the boldest teams in the league lately, with GM A.J. leading the charge. Engaging in the exercise of criticizing Preller is usually a foolish endeavor. With over $210 million dedicated to their 2024 payroll, the Padres find themselves pondering the possibility of trading Juan Soto. His anticipated increase to over $30 million in his last year of arbitration adds to the equation. Although San Diego appears unlikely, when it concerns Preller and the Padres, one can never rule out any possibility.
Other than the Mariners, there is another AL West rival that has the potential to snatch Ohtani from the Angels. Texas has emerged as a significant force in free agency over the last two offseasons, securing notable signings such as Corey Seager and Marcus Semien ahead of the 2022 season. Their momentum continued as they subsequently acquired Jacob deGrom and Nathan Eovaldi last winter. Can the World Series champions continue their spending spree streak for the third time in a row? The Rangers currently have around $200 million allocated for their payroll in 2024. However, they will have more than $60 million freed up, and an additional $56 million will be gone after the following season. Securing their inaugural title could potentially diminish the urgency to acquire Ohtani, yet his addition to the team could catapult the Rangers to the forefront as contenders for becoming the first team to achieve back-to-back championships since 2000.
The Red Sox, known for their recent struggles with three last-place finishes in the AL East over the past four years, are expected to make significant moves this winter. Some believe that Boston has a strong possibility of acquiring Ohtani. Last offseason, the Sox successfully secured the signing of Masataka Yoshida from Japan. This decision proved to be fruitful as the outfielder/DH showcased a solid performance throughout his rookie campaign. Hall of Famer and Red Sox legend, Pedro Martinez, recently showed his support for Ohtani by promoting him.