Shohei Ohtani officially is a free agent, and who the superstar signs with will not only impact the balance of power in Major League Baseball, it will have a domino effect on the entire free-agent market.
The Los Angeles Angels made a qualifying offer valued at $20.325 million for 2024, but that was primarily to ensure the team receives draft pick compensation. The Angels are longshots to retain their two-way star, with the cross-town Dodgers long been favored to sign Ohtani to a deal that could top $500 million.
That remains true following this week’s general managers meetings, with the Dodgers being offered at +110 by DraftKings to be the team with which Ohtani makes his next plate appearance.
However, the Chicago Cubs are nipping at the Dodgers’ heels with +350 odds. The team hired highly respected manager Craig Counsell this week and is expected to be active this offseason in attempting to upgrade the roster.
Chicago was one of the seven finalists Ohtani met with before signing with the Angels six years ago.
SHOHEI OHTANI NEXT TEAM ODDS
Los Angeles Dodgers (+110)
Chicago Cubs (+350)
San Francisco Giants (+650)
New York Yankees (+800)
New York Mets (+800)
Texas Rangers (+900)
Boston Red Sox (+1000)
Seattle Mariners (+1200)
Los Angeles Angels (+1600)
Philadelphia Phillies (+1800)
Toronto Blue Jays (+2000)
San Diego Padres (+2000)
The Field (+2000)
For his part, Ohtani has been mum on potential destinations. He’s recovering from a procedure on this throwing elbow and won’t pitch in 2024. That isn’t expected to dampen his free-agent market much, if at all.
If he wishes to remain on the West Coast, the Giants and Mariners could be tempting destinations. The Giants are seeking a new face of the franchise and have hired veteran manager Bob Melvin, while the Mariners made a strong run at signing Ohtani the first time around. Ohtani also considers Mariners legend Ichiro Suzuki an idol.
And then there’s the big-market teams on the East Coast. If Ohtani is willing to sign with a team on the other side of the country, the Yankees, Mets and Red Sox are expected to make significant offers.
The reigning World Series champion Rangers are another intriguing possibility. Already loaded with a deep core of young and veteran talent, Ohtani would provide a huge addition at designated hitter next season. And Texas has the added benefit of no state income tax.
Ohtani, the favorite to win American League MVP next week, was 10-5 on the mound with a 3.14 ERA in 23 starts and batted .304 with a .412 on-base percentage and 1.066 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, to go along with 44 home runs and 95 RBIs. Elbow and oblique injuries forced an early end to his season.
How long Ohtani will take to make a decision remains to be seen. The Winter Meetings often serve as the unofficial start of the offseason frenzy, and they’re slated for Dec. 3-6 in Nashville.
–Field Level Media
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