We're on the verge of arguably the best player in MLB history landing the largest contract the league has ever seen. Let's look at possible destinations for the two-way sensation in 2023 MLB Free Agency: Top Landing Spots for Shohei Ohtani.
Ohtani's free agent possibilities have been examined long before this offseason began. The Los Angeles Angels tried their best – whatever that's worth – to build a better team around him, but it's clear the legendary two-way player wants to win now.
New reports indicate he's "less concerned about geography" and more interested in playing for a contender. Can you blame Ohtani? The Angels haven't had a winning season since they dropped "of Anaheim" from their name in 2016. Maybe something to consider for them.
But we're not here to focus on the past. It's time to discuss the top landing spots for the free agent superstar.
2023 MLB Free Agency: Top Landing Spots for Shohei Ohtani
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Los Angeles Dodgers
Let’s go ahead and get this out of the way. The Dodgers have been considered the top contender for Ohtani for years now.
They wanted to sign him out of high school, and they were in the mix during his first taste of free agency. Nothing seems to have changed as the Dodgers still covet MLB’s biggest star.
Los Angeles only has two players signed to guaranteed contracts past 2025: Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman. They didn’t make any big splashes in free agency this past offseason. This leads many to believe they’ve been gearing up for a mega deal for Ohtani.
The Dodgers check the boxes in this situation. Ohtani wants to play for a contender, and the Dodgers have won 100+ games in four of the last five full seasons – on top of winning the World Series in the shortened COVID season. They’re also on the West Coast, a factor that might not be the top priority but has been important in the past for Ohtani.
And, obviously, they’re willing to spend. The Dodgers had the fifth-highest payroll in 2023. They'll have no issues climbing higher if they can land Ohtani.
Adding Ohtani to a lineup coming off a 100-win year would be a huge splash. A move across town is the best bet at the moment.
The Cubs wanted to sign Ohtani when he came to the States, but their proximity and lack of a DH put them out of the picture. This time around could be a different story.
Chicago just made Craig Counsell the highest-paid MLB manager in history, so it’s clear they’re serious about spending. The club ranked No. 12 in payroll for the 2023 season at roughly $184 million. That number will surely go up for 2024.
Some have also pointed out Ohtani’s desire to reach new records and possibly one day win a Triple Crown. Just look at the potential power surge that awaits Ohtani at Wrigley Field (not to mention all the road games he would get to play at Great American Ball Park and American Family Field).
You know how we always talk about how gap to gap power guys benefit from Wrigley Field’s dimensions. Holy shit Shohei Ohtani’s spray chart from last year overlaid on top of Wrigley… pic.twitter.com/TevAaTAVuc
— FullCountTommy (@FullCountTommy) November 11, 2023
It’s not the most imposing roster at the moment, though. Fangraphs lists the Cubs at No. 19 overall in WAR. Cody Bellinger and Marcus Stroman might be on their way out, too. But a few more pieces with the addition of Ohtani could vastly change their outlook.
Ohtani wants to win. Well, one team in particular has most recently shown their ability to do just that.
The AL is so done for if the Rangers somehow manage to land Ohtani lmao pic.twitter.com/leznfSJcUt
— Addison (@YankeeWRLD) November 12, 2023
Adding Ohtani’s bat to a lineup that tied for the third-most home runs in 2023 would be quite the spectacle. Globe Life Field ranked third in home run value for left-handed batters last season.
The Rangers bumped their payroll up to $195 million for 2023. They have Corey Seager, Marcus Semien, and Jacob deGrom locked down for years to come. They have plenty of arbitration years ahead for Nathaniel Lowe, Josh Jung, and Adolis Garcia. And Wyatt Langford is on the horizon.
That’s a compelling group for Ohtani to join.
The Rangers should probably look to pitching needs for the foreseeable future. Ohtani won’t help them for 2024, but he’d at least shore up the rotation the following year – assuming no further injury issues arise.
Jeff Passan reports Texas will be in the mix for Ohtani. Who knows if they’ll break the bank to outbid everyone else but Rangers fans can dream about that lineup.
San Francisco Giants
The Giants could use a superstar. (I mean, who couldn’t?) They tried to make a splash last year with names like Carlos Correa and possibly Aaron Judge – although that rumor might’ve been misleading. Now they’re in the conversation again for Ohtani.
Betting odds put San Francisco at No. 2 in the Ohtani sweepstakes. Logan Webb is the only player on the team with guaranteed money coming after 2025, so the Giants are set up to offer a major long-term deal.
But is this a roster he wants to commit to? Would he be going to a similar situation as his Angels tenure?
Outside of the 107-win campaign in 2021, the Giants have finished .500 or worse in six of the last seven seasons. They have some promising risters in Luis Matos, Marco Luciano, and Kyle Harrison, but as things currently stand, Ohtani would probably have a 32-year-old Wilmer Flores hitting cleanup for him.
Statcast data also shows how detrimental Oracle Park can be for left-handed batters. Maybe he prefers that set up for his pitching outlook, but there are some clear red flags for Ohtani here.
A new rumor swept across social media Monday. Could the Braves actually be a legit player in the Ohtani sweepstakes?
Morosi notes Ohtani’s priority is playing for a contender in 2024 and beyond and few (if any) teams are set up to contend long term than the Atlanta Braves. pic.twitter.com/he7AB9vuQp
— MLB Deadline News (@MLBDeadlineNews) November 13, 2023
Atlanta has become notorious for signing fiscally responsible contracts to their top stars in recent years – drawing ire from the rest of the league. It was hard to keep track of the endless amount of “here comes a 7-year, $35 million deal” jokes made in light of this latest news.
But it is an intriguing possibility. Ohtani wants to play for a competitive franchise, and the Braves have a solid group of young stars locked in for the foreseeable future. He wouldn't exactly be the center of attention with Ronald Acuña Jr. vying for MVP, but surely Ohtani is happy to share that spotlight if it leads to a World Series title.
Atlanta will be focused on bolstering their rotation this offseason. Ohtani won’t be able to help them there in 2024. It’s definitely a long shot, but Atlanta fans can dream.