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How will teams approach a potential Ohtani deal?

How will teams approach a potential Ohtani deal?

1:04 AM UTC

Shohei Ohtani is now a free agent. is keeping track of the latest news and rumors surrounding the two-way superstar.

Nov. 20: What might Ohtani’s deal look like?
Even if fully healthy, Ohtani’s free agency was going to enter unprecedented territory. After all, there’s never been a player like him — as evidenced by Ohtani becoming the first two-time unanimous MVP in AL/NL history last week.

But now toss in the fact that he’s coming off his second major right elbow surgery — he underwent Tommy John surgery in late 2018 and another major elbow surgery in September — and it’s almost impossible to predict what his new deal will look like this offseason. Ohtani’s contract is still likely to set records, but it could take on a unique form given that he’ll be limited to hitting in 2024 — and nobody knows what his pitching future will hold.

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (subscription required) recently took a crack at breaking down some of the options, while also picking the brains of some top executives whose teams may have interest in Ohtani. In a perfect world, Rosenthal says, those teams would love to give Ohtani a record salary by DH standards for next season, coupled with a conditional opt-out based on his health. If Ohtani plays enough and chooses to opt out, perhaps the club could void that move by exercising a built-in guarantee along the lines of what he might be looking for.

Of course, Ohtani and his camp would likely have little to no interest in such a deal. Instead, they’ll be pushing for the most guaranteed money up front as possible — not to mention some potential opt-outs after the second or third year once Ohtani is, hopefully, back to full health.

For anyone who may have lost track by now, Rosenthal offers this simple breakdown: “Start with a $450 million guarantee that would beat Mike Trout’s record. Add $150 million in incentives to push the potential value to $600 million. First team to guarantee the incentives signs Ohtani.”

Of course, it might not be that easy — but it certainly gives a glimpse into what potential suitors will be evaluating in the comins weeks (or months).

Nov. 18: Yankees not optimistic about signing Ohtani?
Is it too early to write off the Yankees in the Ohtani sweepstakes? Perhaps not.

Writing in the New York Post, MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reports that the Yankees are “extremely interested” in Japanese right-handed pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto. However, the Yanks “aren’t as optimistic Ohtani will seriously consider New York based on a comment he’s said to have made to them six years ago while on his tour of teams suggesting he didn’t see himself in such a big city as New York,” Heyman writes.

In 2017, when Ohtani was an MLB free agent for the first time, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman indicated that Ohtani was not interested in playing for the Yanks because the two-way phenom preferred a smaller-market team and/or a team on the West Coast. It’s worth noting that besides the Yankees and Mets, big-market clubs such as the Dodgers and Cubs are among the perceived top suitors for Ohtani this offseason.

The Mariners have also been considered as a possible landing spot for Ohtani, but that may be unlikely as well. Industry sources told’s Daniel Kramer that signing Ohtani “doesn’t appear to be within the Mariners’ realistic agenda this offseason.”

Nov. 16: Will venue hurt Giants’ chances to land Ohtani?
The Giants have been rumored to be firmly in the mix among teams pursuing Ohtani this offseason, but according to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman, San Francisco’s ballpark could be a hindrance in that effort.

Citing “some who know Ohtani,” Heyman wrote in an article for the New York Post that “while Oracle Park is one of the most beautiful, it’s unfriendly to lefty power hitters.”

In 2023, only San Diego’s Petco Park was tougher for left-handed hitters in terms of slugging percentage (.368) than Oracle Park, where lefties slugged .369.

Nov. 16: Blue Jays could be sleeper team in Ohtani race (report)
Are the Blue Jays a potential sleeper in the Ohtani sweepstakes? At least one rival executive thinks so, sharing that view with The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal (subscription required).

With Matt Chapman, Kevin Kiermaier, Brandon Belt and Whit Merrifield all reaching free agency, Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins has said the club is looking to add as many as four hitters this offseason. Ohtani, of course, is the best available bat, with the bonus that he’ll be able to pitch starting in 2025.

Per Rosenthal, the exec mentioned three reasons why they thought Ohtani could be an option for the Blue Jays: they need left-handed power, George Springer’s $150 million deal only has three years left on it and plans to sign Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette — both of whom are eligible for free agency after 2025 — to massive extensions may now be on hold.

Springer, Kevin Gausman and José Berríos are the only Blue Jays signed to guaranteed deals past 2025, and Berríos is the only one under contract beyond 2026, so an Ohtani megadeal may be feasible for the club.

ESPN’s Jeff Passan (subscription required) also linked Toronto to Ohtani on Tuesday, citing a source with knowledge of the team’s plans who said the Blue Jays “want to do something big” this offseason.

Nov. 16: Cubs reportedly planning to pursue Ohtani
The Cubs were among the finalists for Ohtani when he came over from Japan in 2017, but the lack of the designated hitter spot in the National League at the time worked against Chicago, with Ohtani wanting to hit and pitch.

Now, the Cubs have another shot to land him, and ESPN’s Jesse Rogers reports that they intend to pursue the opportunity.

Chicago could also look to re-sign its own star free agent, Cody Bellinger, but Rogers considers it unlikely that the Cubs will end up with both Ohtani and Bellinger. Rogers spoke with multiple sources who said they thought the Cubs are more likely to sign Ohtani than bring back Bellinger, as the club has no intention to get into a bidding war for the outfielder with suitors such as the Yankees, Giants and Blue Jays.

Nov. 15: Do these clubs have a leg up in Ohtani sweepstakes?
There’s no way of knowing which teams Ohtani might be favoring as he embarks on his free-agent odyssey. However, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan (subscription required), there are at least a few clubs and cities for which the two-way superstar has shown an affinity in the past.

“He deeply respects the Los Angeles Dodgers’ winning ways, their ability to develop players and their progressive coaching approach,” Passan writes. “He appreciates the Texas Rangers — not just for their 2023 World Series victory but the fact that early in his career, when he was playing in Japan, they expressed strong interest in him. He loves visiting Boston and has a fondness for Fenway Park.”

Passan hears the Dodgers, Rangers and Red Sox are all expected to be involved in the bidding for Ohtani’s services.

Nov. 10: Why many see the Dodgers as the favorites for Ohtani
While Ohtani is still in the early stages of free agency and could have a long list of suitors, many see the Dodgers as the frontrunners, including 10 of the 14 MLB decision-makers polled by’s Mark Feinsand at the GM Meetings.

Writing for the New York Post, MLB Network insider Jon Heyman pointed to three reasons why there’s a “consensus” that the Dodgers are the favorites for the two-way superstar.

• They cleared payroll space: According to Cot’s Contracts, the Dodgers’ Opening Day payroll was roughly $223 million in 2023 (down from $281 million in 2022), but after they stuck to one-year and Minor League deals last offseason, they currently have only around $128 million on the books (including estimated commitments for arbitration-eligible players) for 2024. That leaves plenty of room for the Dodgers to sign Ohtani and still address other pressing needs, such as their rotation.

• They are a consistent winner: Ohtani has never made the postseason during his career. The Dodgers, meanwhile, have reached the playoffs in each of the past 11 years, with 10 division titles, three World Series appearances and one championship in that span. If Ohtani wants to win now, he’d be hard-pressed to find a better situation than the Dodgers.

• They have a geographic advantage: “Word is Ohtani loves Southern California,” writes Heyman. Ohtani spent the past six seasons with the Angels, whose park is only about 31 miles south of Dodger Stadium. Los Angeles is a bigger city than Anaheim, but moving from the Angels and the Dodgers wouldn’t be that big of a geographic adjustment for the 29-year-old.

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