The vacation season kicks into gear this week with the General Manager meetings taking place in Scottsdale, Arizona. Although the meetings eventually ended early due to the virus that engulfed the baseball world, there were still plenty of reports of how markets were being prepared for various clubs and players. The big star of the winter is ready Shohei Ohtani But only the drab and the bold have come out about it so far, and John Heyman of the New York Post and Bob Nightingale of USA Today have rounded up some of the details.
Ohtani is a top free agent who is head and shoulders above the rest. The two-way superstar has been the best player in baseball of late, putting together perhaps the greatest three-year streak the sport has ever seen. He hit 124 home runs, stole 57 bases and slashed .277/.379/.585 for a wRC+ of 157. He also threw 428 1/3 innings with a 2.84 earned run average. Elbow surgery in 2010. He won’t pitch in 2024, but he’ll still hit, and he’s expected to do his best to get back on the mound in 2025 and beyond.
He’s never been a player or a free agent, which makes him center stage. It was widely assumed that he would be more likely to land with a traditional big spending club like the Dodgers, but he is such a huge star that many dark horse teams could enter the mix. Marketing opportunities in North America and around the world should offset some of the cost of acquiring it. Those factors, along with his unprecedented talent, open doors for those who couldn’t. “Nobody knows where it’s going to end up,” Astros general manager Dana Brown told Nightingale. “And I think that’s fun for the game. You never know what will happen. I think there could be a wild card team that emerges. These groups cannot get away with anything. Indeed, any club that isn’t interested in Otani will be more interested than any club.
But neither Otani nor his agent, Nez Balo, was in attendance, so he was kept privy to the meetings. Many baseball decision-makers bristled when asked directly about their interest in Ohtani, with many commenting on his prowess that any club would be happy to have him. Perhaps the most unusual example of wondering the question came when speaking with Mariners president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto. Orange County Register Bill Plunkett. “I don’t know,” he said when asked how he would rate such a special player. When asked if he wanted to find an answer, he replied, “Maybe so.”
With so many different smoke screens coming from different directions, there’s little left to do but try to read the tea leaves. Heyman’s Dodgers are considered favorites because of their salary cap, record on the field and Ohtani’s love for Southern California. But he added that the Angels want to reunite and the Padres are interested. The latter club is said to be trying to trade or extend him. Juan SotoHeyman added that president of baseball operations AJ Preller has little interest in business. However, that could change if they can successfully sign Ohtan.
He added that he believes the Yankees and Mets will be in, but that Ohtani is unwilling to live in New York. Heyman said he built that foundation when Ohtani came to North America six years ago, choosing from the Angels, Dodgers, Padres, Rangers, Giants, Mariners and Cubs, mostly West Coast teams and none in New York. At the time, he was subject to the amateur bonus pool system and would not have earned more than a few million bucks wherever he signed, so getting geographic choice didn’t hurt him financially. Now it’s in his best interest to at least pretend he’s open to signing anywhere so that he has more suitors and raises his bid. He personally is not known to have a strong geographic preference at present.
The Cubs were the exception last time out of the Western Conference pick, and they seem to be hoping Ohtani still thinks fondly of them. Nightengale lists Ohtani as a serious competitor and added that “a lot of GMs” say the Cubs “could be” the strongest team against Ohtani. He added that the Rangers are considered a serious contender, which isn’t surprising after their World Series run fueled by several high-profile free agent signings in recent years.
As mentioned, angels want to reunite and should not be counted out. “I think that’s very demanding to play,” Minassian told Nightingale. “It’s a great part of the country. We have a great fan base. The players who have played here since I’ve been here have been really positive about their experience. So I think we have a chance with anybody in the market.
Although the Angels haven’t had much success on the field recently, they have made several big signings under owner Arte Moreno. It includes an extension for $360MM Mike Trout.while Albert Pujols And Anthony Rendon He earned $254MM and $245MM in free agency. Re-signing Ohtan may require them to move beyond the stratosphere and into the mesosphere, but there’s at least some precedent there. “I wasn’t putting anything down,” Minassian said. I think owning the right opportunities is all about winning. … We do what we can to make the team the best it can be.
John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote about the Giants’ interest this week, speaking with president of baseball operations Farhan Zadi. “We have good salary flexibility,” Zadi said, “so we’ll look at anyone who we think can be an impact player for us, even on a long-term contract.” MLB.com’s Daniel Kramer covered Ohtani in terms of markers, highlighting that Dipoto was more vocal in his interest in Ohtani when he first arrived in 2017. moment.
How to do it all and on what schedule to watch. Ohtani probably wants to talk to teams about things other than money, like how often they’re willing to allow him to steal shots, what to do when he can’t take the mound, etc. The talks may take a few weeks. And he was expected to sign in the first week of December at the winter meetings, but there are still many unknowns about perhaps the most impressive free agent of all time.