By CJ Carlson
Ohtani Sweepstakes: Who’s in and who’s out?
Shohei Ohtani is the biggest superstar in baseball right now, and the fact that he’s hitting free agency is a massive deal. Whichever team he decides to sign with, they can immediately become World Series contenders. Obviously, the Los Angeles Angles are doing everything in their power to convince him to stick around, but it’s not a guarantee given how poorly they’ve played as a team. Apparently, there are a few teams that are already out on the Ohtani sweepstakes as free agency has gotten underway.
ESPN reported the other day that the Texas Rangers, New York Mets, and the Boston Red Sox are all dipping out of contention to sign the generational star. All three of these teams are bowing out so that they can turn their attention to other available players in free agency. At first glance, it feels surprising that they wouldn’t give Ohtani their full attention. However, thinking about it makes you realize that they likely don’t have the money available to hand him a ridiculously large contract offer.
Starting with the Rangers, they just had to dish out a substantial amount of money to Corey Seager and Marcus Semien back in 2021. Those paydays helped them win a World Series this past year actually. The problem is that an Ohtani deal would likely cost more than both of those aforementioned players combined cost the team right now.
There’s simply no way that the Rangers could make it work there. As for the Mets, they just had a poor 75-win season after a lot of expectations coming into the year. After all, they had a $350 million payroll heading into the first game. Clearly, they need to restructure and get back on track before dishing out another large deal. And finally, we have the Red Sox, who have been in the playoffs just one time in the last five years. They are also the team that shipped away Mookie Betts in 2020. It feels like they want to get a better structure built to succeed before just snagging Ohtani.
That news might be disappointing for fans of those clubs, but there were other teams listed as still being in the running for his services. The Los Angeles Dodgers, Toronto Blue Jays, and the Chicago Cubs are all reportedly in the decision-making process for Ohtani. The San Francisco Giants were thought to be in the running at well, though this team seems to be stumping reporters on the subject. They’ve been claimed to be “unknown” on Ohtani and their pursuit of him since free agency has begun.
The Blue Jays are sure to surprise some people, but apparently there have been rumblings about the potential of Shohei Ohtani playing there lately. There’s no guarantee that he plans a visit to Toronto, though the star player has allegedly liked the times that he’s taken trips to Toronto, possibly making that an enticing landing spot.
A different network insider claimed that those five teams are the only ones that legitimately have a chance at signing Ohtani to a deal before the season starts. Sure, each of the other teams in the league with the cap space available to sign him would attempt to sign him, but that doesn’t guarantee Ohtani would even prefer to go there. Since the decision is up to Ohtani himself, those five landing spots would be his most ideal. Out of those five, the Dodgers are thought to be slightly favorites, likely due to the location and their roster construction.
Don’t worry about having to wait a long time for a decision to be made about his future. There is a genuine possibility that we hear where Ohtani wants to play by the time Winter Meetings rolls around. Once he settles down on a franchise, the contract likely won’t be that big of a deal. The second that one of those five teams gets the call that he’d like to join the roster, they would be willing to hand out anything they have in the bank for him.
One rumor that’s gone around is that his contract could go above the $500 million mark, with another saying it could push $600 million. That’s quite the deal, no matter how much money that franchise has available.