Braves among surprise teams that could land Shohei Ohtani

Braves Shohei Ohtani

The Braves are gearing up for another October run at the Commissioner’s Trophy. The club owns the best record in baseball, on pace to eclipse several franchise and MLB records, but none of it matters without a World Series.

That’s all anyone is focused on, but a lot of other clubs are already preparing for the offseason. Alex Anthopoulos is spread thin. He’s monitoring several situations — Kyle Wright, the bullpen, etc. — in anticipation of making the postseason roster, but he’s also looking ahead.

He’s done a textbook job shoring up the Braves’ future by locking up much of the core. That likely means there aren’t many moves to be made, but the reason Atlanta has been the best team in baseball is the depth of the organization. It takes a 40-man roster, and the under-the-radar moves are generally the ones that make a difference.

AA’s focus is surely on 2023, but no general manager is just thinking about the present. It’s the future that gets them paid the big bucks, and this winter will be one for the books because of one alien — Shohei Ohtani.

The Japanese superstar is set to test free agency and become the highest-paid player in baseball history. Unfortunately, an elbow injury has complicated things, but Ohtani and his agent are surely going to tell prospective teams he is preparing to return to the mound at some point.

Before the injury, this guy was going to flirt with around $700 million. He was arguably the best pitcher in baseball before going down and is still among the best hitters. It’s a strange but interesting situation unfolding.

I actually believed the Braves would’ve thrown their name in the hat had he not injured his elbow. The club hasn’t thrown a massive contract out yet, but who better than a two-way phenom?

The Braves are all about value, and Ohtani is arguably the most valuable player in this sport’s history as an ace and DH. Throw in his value off the field, and it made sense for Atlanta. However, this injury throws a wrench in those plans.

Ohtani is still one of the best hitters in baseball, but it’s not like the Braves lineup needs him or even has a place for him. His pitching was more attractive to me because of Atlanta’s question marks surrounding the starting rotation.

Max Fried’s impending free agency, Charlie Morton’s potential retirement, Kyle Wright’s shoulder injury, etc. What made it even remotely possible was Ohtani’s ability to slot in Atlanta’s rotation and lineup. Now that Ohtani may not pitch at all, the Braves are likely out of the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes but don’t tell Jim Bowden that.

The Athletic writer included the Atlanta Braves among the surprise teams that could land him:

The Braves have put together the best team in baseball and have done it affordably. As much as they’d like Ohtani to join the top of their rotation, I don’t see the Braves playing in the half-a-billion-dollar playground when their team is good enough to win without him.

If he could return to form as a pitcher, I could maybe see it. I just don’t know how likely that is at this point.

Photographer: John Cordes/Icon Sportswire

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