Shohei Ohtani just might be the best baseball player to ever walk the face of the planet. The longevity of his career isn’t quite there yet, but his current peak is higher than anything we’ve ever seen before, as he’s set to become the most highly sought after free agent in MLB history at season’s end.
The Angels have made it pretty clear they aren’t going to trade him. They are not totally out of the playoff picture and moving the best player in MLB history would be an abysmal look for the organization. However, the only thing that might be worse is opting not to trade him and then losing him for nothing at the end of the season.
The Angels are in a miserable position. Their roster isn’t good enough to compete, but perhaps if they could at least make the postseason, they could convince Ohtani that they are headed in the right direction. That looks like what they will try to do after the All-Star break, which means the Japanese superstar will become a free agent, available to any club willing to open their checkbook.
If Shohei Ohtani is after the most money, the Braves won’t be in the conversation. That’s not their MO, and it’s not going to change, even for the best player in baseball. However, if he puts winning at the forefront of his desires, there isn’t a better place for him to sign.
Prior to tonight’s Home Runs Derby, Ohtani was asked about his lack of team success with the Angels, and he made it very clear how badly he wants to play for a contender.
"It sucks to lose. He wants to win, so it gets stronger every year."
Shohei Ohtani, through his translator, on how important being on a winning team is to him: pic.twitter.com/tc47rqKjnu
— SNY (@SNYtv) July 10, 2023
This isn’t necessarily a secret. Ohtani has hinted at various points throughout his career that he wants to play for a winner. MLB insiders have even come out and said there’s no chance he re-signs with the Angels if they don’t make the postseason again. And even then, he still might not view them as a viable championship consider, which could force him to leave in free agency.
In the past, I’ve talked about the possibility of the Braves pursuing Shohei Ohtani in free agency. I wouldn’t call it likely, but I also see them as a potential sleeper team in negotiations. The Braves are all about value, and Ohtani brings more value than any player we’ve ever seen. If he’s willing to take less in order to contend, there could be a path toward a deal. Whoever signs Ohtani is not only getting the best player in baseball, but they are also getting a mega-star off the field, who would bring tons of money to the organization in other avenues.
I still think the Dodgers should be viewed as the clear frontrunner to sign Shohei Ohtani. They’ve been positioning themselves to offer him a blank check for a while. They’re also in Los Angeles and compete for championships on a yearly basis. They make too much sense, but the Braves also have the ability to make a serious push, and nobody can offer him a better chance to win.
Photo: Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire