If Shohei Ohtani has been making waves in the sports world since coming to MLB in 2018, then he is certainly causing a tsunami since the World Baseball Classic. He is an international superstar who just won the MVP, becoming a World Baseball Classic hero while winning the tournament with the undefeated Japanese national team. Now, he enters his final year with the Los Angeles Angels before entering free agency at the end of the 2023 season. Let’s take a look at the most popular Shohei Ohtani destinations.
In theory, Shohei Ohtani should get the largest free agent contract of any MLB player in history. Some folks predict he will sign for $500 million. Regardless though, Ohtani is likely heading for a contract the likes of which we have never seen before. What MLB teams may be willing to give him that deal? These are the 6 most likely Shohei Ohtani destinations.
#6 Seattle Mariners
First and foremost, I do not believe the Mariners are the most likely Shohei Ohtani destination. However, fans should not be surprised if they hear the name “Mariners” floating around as a Shohei Ohtani destination this off-season. Seattle has the chance for the brightest future in the franchise’s history with AL Rookie of the Year Julio Rodriguez after the team finally snapped its playoff drought.
If there is any time for the Mariners to make the biggest splash since Robinson Cano, it would be now. Seattle provides an enticing pull factor for Ohtani being the flagship destination for a Japanese superstar since the days of Ichiro. With Ichiro still working for the Mariners, whom Ohtani admires greatly, and Seattle having such a high Japanese-American population, there may be a fitting home for him in the Pacific Northwest.
However, Seattle is not a high-revenue team and likely would be unable to offer Ohtani the money that the following candidates could.
#5 New York Yankees
You cannot be talk about big time free agents without thinking about the Yankees, and the same is true for a potential Shohei Ohtani destinationi. If fans remember, the Yankees pushed hard for Ohtani when he first came to MLB, so it makes sense why they would be hungry to jump at the opportunity to finally get their hands on him. He fills so many holes for the Yankees: All-Star level starting pitcher, and lefty power bat at Yankee Stadium.
The pull factor for Ohtani goes without saying: the Yankees are the most prestigious brand when it comes to legacy. However, this match would be difficult when it comes to the numbers game. The Yankees are bound to massive long term contracts with Aaron Judge, Gerrit Cole, and Giancarlo Stanton.
The first two are the largest in Yankee history, and none of those contracts will be up any time soon. Stanton would be the earliest after the 2028 season. It would take some extraordinary creativity on the part of Brian Cashman to make Ohtani possible.
#4 Los Angeles Angels
You cannot simply dismiss the possibility of Ohtani staying with his current team. Owner Artie Moreno has proven nothing more than his willingness to spend unreasonable amounts of money for shiny objects even if it is to the detriment of the team overall. Moreno is not an owner who likes to be told “no”, nor is he one who actually understands when to turn away from a superstar.
One would also assume that Moreno would be more determined than ever to win a World Series so he can sell his team at a value that he finds satisfying. Also, from the selling perspective, the Angels can sell for higher when it has the biggest asset in the game on the roster: Shohei Ohtani.
However, it is difficult to imagine Ohtani wanting to continue to tolerate such a mismanaged franchise. His desire to return becomes less likely after winning the World Baseball Classic because he is now reminded of the willing culture which he has been so deprived of. But then again, there is an amount of money that can change anybody’s mind.
#3 Los Angeles Dodgers
For Shohei Ohtani destinations, the Dodgers are most similar to the Yankees but with more flexibility. They are only bound to 2 long term contracts instead of 3, and the Dodgers largest commitment (Mookie Betts) is a less annual salary than the Yankees will be paying for either Judge, Cole or Stanton.
From Ohtani’s perspective, this is a legacy building team to be apart of with the same expectation and winning culture as the Yankees. Being a Dodger is the closest thing you can be to a Yankee without actually being a Yankee, except, the Dodgers have had more winning success in the last 10 years.
The stars would be nearly aligned for the two parties to meet, if it weren’t for 2 other suitors.
#2 New York Mets
The name that everyone was expected to see on any list of Shohei Ohtani destinations. Mets new owner Steve Cohen is in the heat of his promise to bring a World Series to queens within “3-5 years.” He has been dumping unprecedented amounts of money at free agents and there is no reason to believe he would treat the golden boy Ohtani any differently.
Yes the Mets have 3 ginormous annual contracts on the books, but the top two (Verlander and Scherzer) will be gone by 2025 at the latest, with possibilities of those contracts ending earlier (Verlander vested option for ‘25, Scherzer player option for ‘24). From there the payroll drops significantly. An Ohtani acquisition is two-fold: he is logical for an all-in “win now” scenario, as well as he is for a long term plan.
The question above all questions remains: how long will Steve Cohen continue to spend at this rate? Only he knows the answer. But honestly, he has one competitor he should be concerned with…
#1 San Fransisco Giants
The San Fransisco Giants have a vengeance making them an ideal Shohei Ohtani destination. They are Giants are two years removed from the best regular season record in franchise history, and did it all without a superstar to be found. Ever since, they have showed their desire to give a large contract to their next face of their franchise, if they can only get their hands on one.
They were teased with and toyed out of their opportunity at Aaron Judge, and narrowly avoided what they felt was a disaster when they were minutes away from signing one of the hottest free agents Carlos Correa. The Giants have the money to spend, the desire to spend it, and are out for blood after being wronged by the two top free agents of the most recent offseason. For Ohtani, San Fransisco may be the the prime destination.
Not only does San Fransisco have an Asian American population to appeal to (like Seattle), but it maintains the winning culture and expectation of their arch rival Dodgers. Everything the Giants want and need can be found in Shohei Ohtani, and everything Ohtani wants and needs can be found in San Fransisco.
What do you think is the most likely Shohei Ohtani destination? Let us know in the comments below!
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