Shohei Ohtani is poised to become one of the most sought-after MLB free agents in years. Even as the two-way star recovers from elbow surgery, the market for the 2023 AL MVP’s services is expected to be flooded this winter and there’s an early favorite.
While Ohtani hasn’t completely closed the door on a return to the Los Angeles Angels, it’s viewed as unlikely. Los Angeles had a legitimate chance to re-sign him, especially when owner Arte Moreno was considering a sale of the franchise to a Japanese-led group. However, Moreno kept the team with that decision influencing Ohtani’s interest in playing elsewhere.
- Shohei Ohtani career stats (hitting): .274/.366/.556, .922 OPS, 171 home runs, 351 RBI, 86 SBs
Ohtani will not be able to pitch in 2024 after being diagnosed with a UCL tear in August and then undergoing surgery in September. However, it’s not expected to have much of an influence on his market in free agency.
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During an appearance on Foul Territory, Rosenthal shared that the Dodgers remain the favorites to sign Ohtani. However, he fully expects the New York Mets to be in the mix. Rosenthal also shared his belief that the San Francisco Giants, Texas Rangers and Seattle Mariners could also be in the mix.
“The Dodgers have been the favorite for a long time, or at least a team we thought would definitely be in the mix. cannot rule out the Mets. I cannot see [Mets owner] Steve Cohen simply passing on Shohei Ohtani.”Ken Rosenthal on teams expected to pursue Shohei Ohtani
It’s been previously reported that the Dodgers are expected to prioritize pitching this offseason. However, Ohtani’s MVP-caliber bat would give Los Angeles the best lineup in MLB next season. Assuming eh signs a multi-year deal, Ohtani could join the Dodgers’ rotation in 2025.
The Mariners and Giants were both involved in the Ohtani bidding war when he came over from Japan. Both clubs also meet his reported preference to play on the West Coast, though, Seattle is much closer to contending in 2024 than San Francisco.
- Shohei Ohtani stats 2023 (hitting): .304/.412/.654, 1.066 OPS, 44 home runs, 95 RBI, 20 SBs
Texas would be an interesting landing spot, but the odds of it happening are unlikely. While Max Scherzer is poised to enter the 2024 season healthy, Jacob deGrom won’t return from Tommy John surgery until the summer of the 2024 season. Given how much the Rangers have already committed to spending next season, it seems unlikely they would sink $80-plus million into Ohtani and deGrom with neither being key contributors to the rotation next season.
Notably, Rosenthal also shared his belief that the New York Yankees are unlikely to make a big push for Ohtani.