Many believe that Los Angeles Angels star Shohei Ohtani isn't interested in joining the New York Yankees as a free agent, but that apparently isn't the case.
According to Jon Heyman of the New York Post, Ohtani doesn't have any trepidations about joining New York as had been previously perceived.
"People close to Ohtani maintain it’s wrong that he is anti-New York," Heyman wrote. "They contend he has never expressed those sentiments, and furthermore that he’d be open-minded if he becomes a free agent. They add that he’s fully committed to the Angels for now, as his incredible performance shows."
Heyman noted the Yankees "love" Ohtani and attempted to acquire him from the Angels at this year's trade deadline. The two-way phenom is eligible for one more year of arbitration in 2023 and would become an unrestricted free agent the following year if he doesn't reach a long-term deal with Los Angeles.
The Yankees were not included in the final list of Ohtani's preferred teams during the sweepstakes for his services prior to the 2018 season. In addition to the Angels, the other finalists were the Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners, San Diego Padres and Texas Rangers.
According to Heyman, "two baseball executives suggested they could see the Giants landing Ohtani should he leave the Angels."
Ohtani has not indicated whether he actually intends to leave Los Angeles, but that hasn't diminished other teams' interest in him. The 2021 AL MVP is in the midst of another incredible season and looks to be entering his prime.
The Angels have not had success on the field during Ohtani's tenure. This will be the eighth consecutive season that the team has failed to make the playoffs, and it hasn't finished with a record above .500 since 2015.
It all makes for a highly anticipated free-agency class of 2023. As Heyman noted, "monetary offers could be wildly different" at the end of next season, which could play a major factor in Ohtani's decision.