What we’ve been waiting for is nearly here. While it looks a lot different now because of his UCL injury, the Shohei Ohtani free agency sweepstakes will still be incredibly fascinating. He won’t be ready to pitch again until 2025. However, Ohtani is a player every MLB team could use, and that includes the Mets and the Yankees.
Will one of them not really make a serious attempt at pursuing him this winter, though? That’s what MLB insider Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic said while making an appearance on Tuesday’s edition of Foul Territory (quote via SNY):
The Dodgers have been the favorite for a long time, or at least a team we thought would definitely be in the mix. I cannot rule out the Mets. I cannot see Steve Cohen simply passing on Shohei Ohtani.
And I would also include the Giants, the Rangers — yes, the Rangers — and the Mariners as at least possibilities. I still think it comes down to LA versus New York — Dodgers versus the Mets.
The Yankees? I don’t see them doing this.
Most of this checks out with previous reports we’ve seen from Rosenthal and other MLB insiders. The Dodgers have long been seen as a favorite for a few reasons. They’re not only a perennial contender, but they can also afford what it’ll cost to sign Ohtani. Oh, and he’d be able to stay on the West Coast.
But then again, Rosenthal said about five weeks ago that he couldn’t see Cohen and the Mets just simply bowing out of the Shohei Ohtani free agency sweepstakes. And when it comes to making a big splash this winter, Ohtani is one of two players New York would reportedly do it for.
The Yankees sure could use him in their lineup. He’ll be able to hit by Opening Day in 2024, but Ohtani will obviously need to be a designated hitter. That lineup spot in the Bronx is already quite occupied, mostly with the likes of Giancarlo Stanton. Plus, it seems like they’re more focused on preparing a full-court press on Yoshinobu Yamamoto.
We’ll see what happens once the offseason actually hits, free agency opens, and teams are allowed to speak with whoever is available. It seems like another Mets-Dodgers bidding war is on tap. I wouldn’t count out the other teams Rosenthal mentioned, though, and those who decide to publicly throw their proverbial hats in the ring.