Narrowing Down the Shohei Ohtani Sweepstakes
Which 4 clubs are still in hot pursuit of the greatest baseball talent we've ever seen?
Jeff Passan is currently the mecca of baseball journalism. What he reports on, usually goes. The ESPN journalist and New York Times best-selling author reported that the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes have keyed in on four clubs.
Look away Red Sox, Rangers, and Mets fans. It seems as if these three clubs are OUT. However, not all is lost, they are just turning their attention toward other players.
As for the San Francisco Giants, Passan reports that where they stand is pretty much unknown. Not exactly promising.
So, who are the four teams that have emerged as the Japanese Babe Ruth's best suitor?
Los Angeles Angels
To no one’s surprise, the Angels are still working hard to resign their best player. Despite Ohtani’s desire to play for a club that is in contention for a World Series title, it seems as if the Japan native has developed some meaningful enough relationships in Anaheim to persuade him to stay put.
With Mike Trout’s $426M guaranteed contract and Ohtani being projected around the $600M range, it’s wild to think of the payroll these two may attract.
Overall, I can see why Ohtani would want to stay with his inaugural club. He’s won back-to-back MVP titles with the Halos, has 6 years with them, is a clear fan favorite, and is comfortable around the city.
Los Angeles Dodgers
If I was a betting man, this is the landing spot I’d throw the house on. The Dodgers already have plenty of star talent. Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman, Walker Buehler, etc. Assuming they bring back Clayton Kershaw on another one-year team-friendly deal, that would just add fuel to their fire.
Andrew Friedman did not pursue star-free agents Aaron Judge, Carlos Correa, Trea Turner, or Dansby Swanson last year. Instead, he sat on his hands and made the baseball world think. Is he just waiting for Ohtani to hit the market next winter? And that is exactly what everyone is wondering.
The Dodgers check all the boxes for Ohtani. A historically winning franchise, with a boatload of money to throw around, they’re actually located in Los Angeles, and they’ve been linked with Yoshinobu Yamamoto, his good friend.
To be quite honest I’m shocked the Dodgers haven’t separated themselves as front runners for the two-way star yet.
This has to be the one club I didn’t see coming. Yet, now that I’ve analyzed it, it’s making sense.
The Cubs took a big step up in 2023, winning 9 more games than they did the previous year, good for an 83-79 record and second place in the NL Central. Their front office spent money on Dansby Swanson, Cody Bellinger, Jameson Taillon, and others to jumpstart their mini-rebuild.
Not only is Chicago a great sports city, the team is iconic. Wrigley Field has some of the best attendance in baseball and is practically a tourist site. Throw Shohei Ohtani into that area, and ticket sales will only sky-rocket.
Jed Hoyer has made things incredibly clear about how he wants the Cubs to look going forward. Winning. Shocking all, he poached long-time Brewers manager Craig Counsell, giving him an MLB record $40M+ over 5 years to run the show. There’s plenty to like about the North Side if I’m Ohtani.
Toronto Blue Jays
Last, but not least, the Toronto Blue Jays are still in the mix to land baseball royalty. A few weeks ago, in my AL East Christmas list piece, I mentioned why Toronto should be in play for Ohtani.
Atkins and Schnieder have SHORT leashes.
The Jays have made the playoffs three out of their last four seasons, including 2021, where they won 91 games and missed the dance. Yet, Toronto has been incredibly underwhelming in all of those stints, getting swept by the Twins this past October, and the Mariners at home in 2022.
Make. A. Splash.
Money aside, signing Ohtani would give an incredible amount of momentum to this Blue Jays clubhouse. Getting a big-name player like himself would show the rest of the players that this club is going for it, and won’t take no for an answer. In a crowded AL East, it could set them apart.