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The Major League Baseball offseason is Shohei Ohtani’s world and everyone else is living in it, which means there will be no shortage of interest in the two-way star from teams around the league.
Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported “Ohtani could have as many as 10 teams making legitimate offers, and perhaps as many as 20 who’ll tell their fanbase they were in on him.”
He listed the Los Angeles Dodgers as the “heavy favorites” but noted the Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers “are serious contenders.” He also linked the Boston Red Sox, New York Mets and San Francisco Giants as possible suitors.
That the Dodgers are seen in such a light isn’t exactly surprising.
Ohtani has been in Los Angeles his entire career while playing for the Angels, so signing with the city’s other team wouldn’t be a significant adjustment. The Dodgers also rarely hesitate to spend money and will surely be in World-Series-or-bust mode in 2024 and beyond.
As for the Cubs, they just made Craig Counsell the highest-paid manager in the league in a shocking move that both bolstered their own prospects and hurt those of the division-rival Milwaukee Brewers, who now have to replace their departed manager.
It seemed to signal that Chicago is ready to be aggressive this offseason and end a playoff drought that dates back to 2020. There would be no more aggressive move than signing Ohtani, who Nightengale noted could land a deal in excess of $400 million even though he underwent a second elbow surgery in five years in September.
That surgery means he likely will not pitch in the 2024 campaign, but he can still play designated hitter and perhaps anchor the rotation of whatever team signs him in 2025 and beyond.
Part of Ohtani’s value comes from his ability to both pitch and hit at an All-Star level, but even his bat is worth hundreds of millions on the open market. After all, he just slashed .304/.412/.654 with 44 home runs, 95 RBI and 20 stolen bases in 135 games last season.
He led the league in home runs, on-base percentage and slugging percentage even while missing time, underscoring the type of impact he can have on whichever lineup adds him this offseason.
The Rangers are reigning World Series champions and would be even more dangerous with Ohtani. The Red Sox, Mets and Giants are all looking to bounce back from disappointing seasons with a major addition.
And the Dodgers remain quite the threat for the coveted free agent.