Should he hit the open market after the 2023 season, Los Angeles Angels star Shohei Ohtani will be on the radar for just about every team that can afford to sign him, according to ESPN's Jeff Passan.
"I don't want to say he's going to the Dodgers next year because every team...listen, the Yankees are gonna be on him," Passan said Wednesday on The Pat McAfee Show. "Steve Cohen, the Mets owner, the Mets are gonna be in on him. The Cubs are gonna be in on him. The Pirates are not gonna be in. ... Yeah, Red Sox will be on him."
Ohtani is a truly generational two-way talent who followed up his 2021 Most Valuable Player season by being nearly just as good in 2022.
The 28-year-old had 34 home runs, 95 RBI and a .273/.356/.519 slash line at the plate. On the mound, he went 15-9 with a 2.33 ERA and 219 strikeouts in 166 innings. He was runner-up to Aaron Judge in the MVP voting and placed fourth on the Cy Young ballot.
If he reaches free agency, then every single team in MLB should at least make overtures his way. Of course, his price tag will limit that pool substantially because The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reported in June he might eclipse Max Scherzer's record-setting $43.3 million average salary.
There's still the chance Ohtani doesn't reach free agency.
General manager Perry Minasian told reporters in November the Angels have every intention of keeping him on the roster by Opening Day, and this is the same franchise that signed Mike Trout to the biggest contract in MLB history (12 years, $426.5 million).
Team owner Arte Moreno's exploration of a sale presents an obvious variable. But if he does truly intend to sell the Angels within the next few years, then he won't be the one paying Ohtani for a majority of the deal. And you'd think having Ohtani on the roster is something a new owner would prefer rather than trading him or letting him walk as a free agent.
In the event Ohtani plays out his final year with the Angels and doesn't agree to an extension, it could set off a bidding war for the ages next winter.