The free-agent class this MLB offseason broke the bank for a few teams with Aaron Judge and Trea Turner both signing contracts upwards of $300 million. However, you may have to combine those numbers to land next year’s top free agent, Shohei Ohtani.
The two-way player from Japan has taken the league by storm over the past few years, winning the AL Rookie of the Year Award in 2018 and the AL MVP Award in 2021. He likely would’ve won it again last year had Judge not broken the AL home run record.
Ohtani is set to hit free agency after this season and teams are already preparing to bid for him. The Dodgers cut some payroll this offseason in an attempt to lure him to the other side of Los Angeles, and Mets have shown they’re willing to go above and beyond to land their guy.
MLB insider Buster Olney joined Rob Bradford on the Audacy Original Podcast “Baseball Isn’t Boring” and said that the bidding war for Ohtani could even go above $500 million next offseason.
“If you’re running a team and you’re trying to build going forward, is there any greater insurance policy than what Ohtani presents in terms of performance?” Olney said. “Because if today he blows out his elbow, oh guess what, you have a top-five slugger in baseball. Let’s say that he decides ‘I don’t like this hitting thing anymore,’ you still have a top-five pitcher. You have one guy presenting those two players, you have to pick him first!”
Ohtani has averaged 36 home runs, 98 RBI, and 19 stolen bases per 162 games in his 566-game career while batting .267 with an .886 OPS. Last season was his best on the mound, going 15-9 with a 2.33 ERA and 1.01 WHIP in 27 starts. He racked up 219 strikeouts in 166 innings as well.
Bradford threw out the idea of Ohtani getting at least $500 million, but that’s “selling him short,” Olney said.
“If you had asked me a year ago, the operative numbers would’ve been five as in $50 million-plus or $500 million-plus,” Olney continued. “The operative numbers with Ohtani, I believe with the Mets involved – clearly, Billy Eppler, former GM of the Angels, convinced Ohtani to go to the Angels, now with the Mets – and with the Dodgers, who slashed their payroll, the internal conversation is ‘We’re going after Ohtani.’ Bidding war between those two teams, watch the number six.”
Ohtani has broken the mold as a two-way player and he’s going to break some records next offseason in this bidding war between the Dodgers, Mets, and whoever else is willing to pony up for the superstar.
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