With the Texas Rangers clinching their first-ever World Series championship on Monday night, Shohei Ohtani is officially a free agent as Major League Baseball’s hot-stove season kicks off.
The most sought-after, talismanic talent the game has arguably ever seen is here for the taking — a generational star whose prowess will span the generations, even if his pitching will be limited next season after undergoing elbow surgery. He’s still an elite slugger, one who projects to be once again one of the very best in baseball next season and beyond.
There should be a 32-team line waiting to offer him a deal, including his potentially former club, the Los Angeles Angels, who managed to squander six years of Ohtania and Mike Trout and not make the postseason once. But the Japanese product’s pricetag will likely scare a number of teams away — a deal that should easily top $40 million annually.
Here are what is believed to be the early suitors for the 29-year-old:
Potential Shohei Ohtani landing spots
New York Mets
As long as Steve Cohen is at the helm, the Mets will always be linked to front-line free agents given their financial prowess. But it’s not just money that’s fueling speculation linking Ohtani and the Mets.
ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported on ESPN that the Mets are expected to be “front and center,” in the Ohtani sweepstakes.
“They have the most money and the owner who is most willing to spend. They should be there,” Passan said last week. “The question is, does Ohtani want to deal with all that being in New York entails? Because it’s a completely different life than what he has with the Angels…
“The idea that the Mets aren’t going to be front and center is silly. He’s arguably the most talented baseball player of all time and Steve Cohen is in the business of gathering talented baseball players.”
Ohtani fills the gaping hole that has been the designated hitter spot — something that has plagued the Mets for the last two years — while providing a considerable boost to the starting rotation once he’s cleared to throw.
Considering how the team is being constructed in hopes of creating a sustainable winner, Ohtani would get his wish of being on a legitimate contender, too.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Ohtani could just move his stuff across town and his prospects would improve exponentially. The Dodgers have always been a contender for the game’s best, whether it’s been developing them or acquiring them.
While they’ve dominated the National League West for the last decade, though, postseason success has generally eluded them — and discussions will always be had about the legitimacy of their 2020 World Series title on the heels of a COVID-shortened season.
Even with a star-studded roster, they fell woefully short of the World Series, losing to the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NLDS. For a team that is still looking to legitimately get over the top, Ohtani would put them in a different stratosphere.
San Francisco Giants
The Giants will at least tick off the box of being on the West Coast, which will always be a factor in situations involving star Japanese players. However, they’ve regressed significantly in recent years, finishing fourth in the NL West and 21 games out of first.
Bob Melvin has already taken over as manager this offseason, though, and the franchise has shown an affinity for being in the hunt for big-name stars. Just last winter, they were believed to be the finalists for Yankees slugger Aaron Judge’s signature in free agency while agreeing to a deal with Carlos Correa before medical reports derailed the finalizing of a contract.
The World Series champions might be on the verge of adding to their embarrassment of riches.
General manager Chris Young has been unafraid to spend big, bringing on Series MVP Corey Seager, Marcus Semien, Nathan Eovaldi, and Jacob deGrom to help build an immediate contender after losing over 100 games two years ago.
Ohtani suddenly makes the Rangers even larger favorites to repeat in 2024 — and Texas made a run at him when he made the jump from Japan to the majors six years ago before ultimately losing out to the Angels.
Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox are facing the very real threat of being left behind in the American League East. The Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays are young, exciting clubs, the Tampa Bay Rays are small-market darlings that continue to post gaudy regular seasons, and the Yankees are the Yankees. Meanwhile, Boston has finished last in the division three times in the last four years and are overhauling their front office.
They need to make a big move as they never recovered from parting ways with Mookie Betts. Ohtani would firmly put them back in the division’s contending picture.