Shohei Ohtani will be the most coveted player in MLB free agency in years. As MLB teams prepare to line up their pitches to the biggest star in baseball, there are already a few clear factors that will reportedly influence his final decision.
Ohtani, who underwent elbow surgery, will not pitch in 2024. While it wipes out his unique two-way ability for a season, it isn’t expected to have any real influence on what MLB teams are interested in him. As previously reported, clubs view anything Ohtani does on the mound during his next contract as a bonus.
- Shohei Ohtani career stats (hitting): .274/.366/.556, .922 OPS, 171 home runs, 351 RBI, 86 SBs
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Originally, many around baseball thought that Ohtani would ultimately sign with a West Coast team. However, the AL MVP favorite is seemingly keeping his options open, with the New York Mets and Boston Red Sox among the MLB teams he’s interested in signing a long-term deal with.
Ohtani does have the option of signing a short-term contract. It would allow him to make another run at free agency in two years, this time when he’s healthy and proves he can still be a starting pitcher and MVP-caliber hitter. However, that’s reportedly not what he’s looking for.
During an appearance on the Baseball is Dead podcast, ESPN’s Jeff Passan shared insight into what Ohtani will be looking for in free agency and how he’ll approach things. He also shared his belief that even after undergoing elbow surgery, Ohtani won’t sign a deal that includes an opt-out after the 2025 season.
“It was just going to be about money before. So, I think some teams that were in before may not be in as much now. Some teams that were out before may be a little more in now…He does not like anything other than playing ball. He doesn’t want to deal with free agency, so why would he want to do it again.Jeff Passan on MLB free agency for Shohei Ohtani
Passan also shared his belief that Ohtani will be prioritizing stability over the biggest contract when he makes a decision. While the length of the contract will matter to him, it’s more about finding a long-term home and being able to focus on playing baseball than guaranteeing himself the most money.
- Shohei Ohtani stats 2023 (hitting): .304/.412/.654, 1.066 OPS, 44 home runs, 95 RBI, 20 SBs
As for what teams are going to be in the mix, it’s the same clubs previously reported. The Mets and Red Sox are going to face significant competition from the Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners and San Francisco Giants. Both the Giants and Mariners were heavily involved when Ohtani first came over from Japan, but he ultimately signed with the Los Angeles Angels.
Re-signing with the Angels is not happening, leaving the Dodgers, Mariners and Giants as the best options if Ohtani wants to stay on the West Coast. While there is no runaway favorite right now, that will likely change in the weeks to come and the field of suitors will narrow down.