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  • Jacob Koehler

“The Decision”: Shohei Ohtani Edition

Shohei Ohtani is in the midst of one of the biggest free agency sweepstakes in recent history. While Ohtani may not have the same presence off-the-field that other sports superstars have, he is as valuable of a piece to a franchise as there is. The unicorn player is as good of a hitter and pitcher as there is in the MLB, making his free agency value unlike any we’ve seen before. After the Los Angeles Angels decided not to trade him during the season, Ohtani has officially hit the market. For the two-time MVP, there was sure to be a fair number of suitors.

Still in on the bidding for Ohtani are five potential teams. Those are: The Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, Toronto Blue Jays, San Francisco Giants, and his former team The Los Angeles Angels. The Boston Red Sox, New York Mets, and defending champion Texas Rangers were interested, but have since moved on. Currently, the Dodgers are favored to land Ohtani at +115 betting odds, followed by the Cubs at +350 and Blue Jays at +700. Spending six years on the Angels, Ohtani has plenty of personal accolades to show for, but zero team success.

If team success is a priority to Shohei, joining the Dodgers may be the most intriguing situation. He would be staying in LA, which is the quickest flight back home to Japan. A lineup of three former MVPs in Ohtani, Freddie Freeman, and Mookie Betts would be sure to strike fear in opposing pitchers. The Dodgers haven’t been afraid of throwing big money in to snag free agents but have majorly underperformed in the postseason. Adding a player in a league of their own like Shohei could be what they need to take them over the hump. As there is no salary cap in the MLB, it is a strong possibility. His other options are strong as well, as the Blue Jays made the playoffs and the Cubs improved to a winning record last season. The Giants barely missed out on Aaron Judge last season, so they’re still looking for a franchise- changing player.

Ohtani suffered a UCL injury during the 2023 season, requiring surgery. Due to the injury, Ohtani won’t be able to pitch in the upcoming season but will be the most tantalizing DH (designated hitter) in the MLB. It’s unclear how much the injury will affect the asking price for Shohei. He will still be paid as a top player in the MLB off hitting alone, but likely won’t see the astronomical contract numbers he would have if he was available to pitch. Two UCL injuries in a career is enough to cause speculation on if he will ever be the same. A UCL injury for a pitcher is similar to a torn Achilles tendon as an NFL running back, it’s rare to come back %100.

Wherever Shohei lands, it is sure to shake up the MLB. He may not set up an interview to announce where he is taking his talents, but the impact will be felt across the league (unless he stays with the Angels who waste Hall of Fame careers). Fully healthy or not, Ohtani is a talent like we have never seen, and will be treated as such with his upcoming decision.

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