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How MLB offseason has shaped the Shohei Ohtani race, and ranking four current favorites to sign him after 2023

How MLB offseason has shaped the Shohei Ohtani race, and ranking four current favorites to sign him after 2023

Major League Baseball’s offseason has officially crossed the halfway point. All but five of our top 50 free agents are off the board. The trade market is still open, of course, but the biggest story on that front this offseason has concerned who hasn’t been moved rather than who has.

Coming into the offseason, the expectation was that the Los Angeles Angels would at least weigh trading two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani. Ohtani, after all, is eligible for free agency next winter. Beginning with Opening Day, when an acquiring team would be restricted from making him a qualifying offer and fetching draft-pick compensation in return, he’ll lose trade value every time the sun sets during the regular season. The Angels, then, had two paths to take this winter: trade him at the highest his value will be between now and next deadline, or keep him and hope that they can compete for a playoff berth in 2023.

Angels general manager Perry Minasian chose the latter route, announcing that he would not entertain trading Ohtani in early November. That decision was likely inspired by outgoing owner Arte Moreno, who was viewed by rival executives at last summer’s deadline as the biggest impediment to an Ohtani trade. (Moreno is expected to sell the franchise over the coming months, but it’s unclear if or how that transaction will impact Ohtani’s availability.) The byproduct of Minasian’s declaration is that everyone has taken their Ohtani speculation and analysis and placed it on ice, preserving it until sometime next summer or winter when it becomes applicable again. 

If 2023 is going to be the Year of Ohtani, then guess what, folks? The arrival of the new year makes for a good time to break out some of that content. Take today’s piece, for example, where we highlight the four teams who we believe can be described as the favorites to employ Ohtani come 2024. As always, bear in mind that this exercise is far more of an art than a science.

With our usual disclaimers out of the way, let’s get to the meaty part.

Of course, right? The Dodgers pursued Ohtani as an amateur, and their offseason seems shaped around going after him as hard as they have any player in memory. That might entail trading for Ohtani at the deadline and then extending him, like what they did with Mookie Betts, or it might mean an all-out effort when the free agent period begins. Whatever the case, the Dodgers have the financial…

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