shohei ohtani free agency mets yankees
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Yankees fans on Twitter/X will be disappointed to learn that two-way star Shohei Ohtani is almost certainly not Bronx-bound.

In his latest free agency piece, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that the Yankees “are not believed to be in the mix” for Ohtani. They are, however “in strong” on recently posted righty and Ohtani’s WBC teammate Yoshinobu Yamamoto.

Shohei Ohtani recently won his second American League MVP trophy and may soon set records in free agency. He hit .304 with an AL-best 44 home runs in 2022 and also 10-5 with a 3.14 ERA in 23 starts. An elbow injury ended his season in August. The 29-year-old had a second Tommy John surgery and will not pitch in 2024.

We’ll say it extra loudly this time. The New York Yankees were never going to pursue Shohei Ohtani in free agency, at least not beyond a simple check-in. Remember, Ohtani didn’t even meet with east coast teams ahead of his debut five years ago. He also hasn’t even lasted a full five innings in two career starts at Yankee Stadium.

It makes more sense for the Yankees to pursue Yamamoto, who owns a 1.72 ERA in seven pro seasons. He’s also younger at age 25 and seems like a more dominant version of former fan favorite Masahiro Tanaka. Not to compare ridiculous numbers, but Yamamoto should only command $200-225 million compared to the $500 million Ohtani may receive.

The Yankees could also pursue veteran Japanese lefty Shōta Imanaga, who the Yokohama deNA Baystars posted today.

We’ll say it louder and clearer for those still in denial. Passan’s report makes it all but official that the New York Yankees will not sign Shohei Ohtani. They’ll instead focus on Yamamoto, Imanaga, and maybe trade for Juan Soto just for fun.

Mr. Steinbrenner? Mr. Cashman? Get to work. It’s time to go out and win the Yankees another offseason.

Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.