When it comes to the biggest free agent in MLB history, nobody is quite sure what Ohtani’s top priorities are in free agency. In the past, he’s favored being on the West Coast, which is closer to his home country of Japan. Now, he appears hellbent on joining a perennial championship contender after spending the first part of his MLB career stuck in hell with the Angels, who haven’t made the playoffs since 2014.
Of course, money is also a substantial part of this. If Ohtani desires, he can become the highest-paid player in MLB history, topping out north of half a billion dollars. However, a recent report from ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez suggests guaranteed money could be much further down his list of demands than originally anticipated.
“One number has consistently been linked to Shohei Ohtani since he began dominating as a two-way player, and has continued to be brought up even after he underwent a second elbow procedure:
Five hundred — as in $500 million, an unprecedented milestone for a North American professional athlete,” Gonzalez writes via ESPN.
“That type of free agent contract, of course, would require a long-term commitment. But people familiar with Ohtani’s thinking believe he might be open to a short-term deal with an exceedingly high average annual value, a circumstance that would open up a host of suitors this offseason.”
Given the uncertainty around his future as a pitcher following a second Tommy John Surgery, I would be a little surprised if Ohtani settled for a shorter term deal rather than going after the most guaranteed money possible. However, it seems apparent that nobody really knows what his top priority is. If it’s winning, a short term deal with a higher AAV would open up a lot more possibilities for him, including the Braves, who would feel much better doing something like that rather than handing him a ten-year deal worth over $500 million.
Ohtani will be the talk of the entire offseason, and this free agent saga is only beginning. Originally, the Braves had to be considered a long shot to sign him, and they still are, but recent reports have opened up a glimmer of hope in the southeast.
Ohtani is reportedly “intrigued” by the idea of playing for a perennial contender like the Braves. The fact that he also might be willing to settle a 3-4 year deal adds even more fuel to the fire. Perhaps the Atlanta Braves aren’t as big of a long shot to land the most valued free agent in MLB history as originally anticipated.
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