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Shohei Ohtani reportedly interested in playing for Boston Red Sox in 2024, but one issue may prevent it

Los Angeles Angels star Shohei Ohtani has been shut down for the remainder of the 2023 MLB season. After likely playing his final game in an Angels’ uniform, the market for the biggest star in MLB is already heating up.

A torn UCL suffered in August will diminish Ohtani’s earning power in free agency. While he’s still expected to become one of the highest-paid MLB players, the likelihood of Ohtani not pitching in 2024 diminishes some of his value.

However, there will still be more than a dozen teams interested in Ohtani. While clubs like the Seattle Mariners and Los Angeles Dodgers have been viewed as favorites to sign Ohtani, due to his preference to play on the West Coast, it appears Ohtani is also interested in the Boston Red Sox.

  • Shohei Ohtani stats 2023 (hitting): .304/.412/.654, 1.066 OPS, 44 home runs

A National League executive told Peter Gammons that he believes Ohtani is interested in playing for the Red Sox next season. However, the MLB insider notes that Boston likes Masataka Yoshida as its designated hitter and the front office intends to spend most of the money on pitching in free agency.

It’s not a major surprise that Boston would prioritize pitching. Entering MLB games today, the Red Sox ranked 25th in batting average allowed (.259), 26th in quality starts (40) and 21st in ERA (4.58)

Boston had hoped at the MLB trade deadline for the returns of Chris Sale and Tanner Houck to spark the starting rotation. Instead, the Red Sox rotation has posted a 5.04 ERA since August 1.

  • Shohei Ohtani pitching stats (2023): 3.14 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 167 Ks in 132 innings

Ohtani could theoretically address Boston’s pitching woes. However, upcoming elbow surgery and recurring issues with his pitching elbow will likely keep him off the mound in 2024. Furthermore, multiple MLB teams reportedly view Ohtani pitching at any point in the future as a “bonus” to any contract he signs.

Related: 4 Boston Red Sox GM candidates identified

As far as free-agent targets for Boston, a few options stand out. Cy Young candidate Blake Snell and Philadelphia Phillies ace Aaron Nola will be available. Of course, Japanese pitching phenom Yoshinobu Yamamoto is another name to keep an eye on.

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It would still be a surprise if the Red Sox let their emphasis on adding more pitching influence a pursuit of Ohtani. After years of criticism for parting ways with Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts in order to cut payroll, the Red Sox are under pressure to spend more this winter.