Passan: Shohei Ohtani ‘has a fondness for Fenway Park’


Is Craig Breslow prepared to make a big trade?

Following another sub-.500 season, the Boston Red Sox are expected to be active during this MLB offseason. They made a big executive splash at first, bringing aboard former relief pitcher Craig Breslow to be their new Chief Baseball Officer, replacing Chaim Bloom. With needs in the field, at the plate and especially in the starting rotation, most fans and analysts expect the Fenway hot stove to stay pretty warm to potentially blazing for the next few weeks. And if there’s any truth to a recent report, it has the potential to be downright volcanic.

In a piece recently published to ESPN (sorry, it’s an ESPN+ paywall post), insider Jeff Passan speculates that the Boston Red Sox are in fact expected to be in on perhaps the most coveted free agent of the decade if not century or millennium, Shohei Ohtani. This alone is likely enough to put a smile on the faces of many Fenway Faithful. But wait, there’s more.

Passan also adds that while Ohtani, the 2021 AL MVP and likely 2023 MVP, has expressed a liking for certain cities and teams, as far as The Hub goes, “He loves visiting Boston and has a fondness for Fenway Park.”

That’s far from a stamp of approval to his agents, but that’s also worthy of note. Be it because he’s pitched or hit well at Fenway, likes the ballpark and city’s history, has an endorsement deal with New Balance just down the road from Fenway in Brighton, or a combination of reasons, if he likes it here that’s a good start when we’re talking about an organization trying to reverse recent fortunes and woo the sport’s biggest star in the world to your team.

Maybe it helps that it seems the city has a fondness for him, too.

Ohtani could be looking for a double-digit-year deal in the half-billion or more range. He also will only serve as a designated hitter in 2024 and will not pitch as he recovers from UCL surgery, the second such procedure of his career. The Red Sox do have a number of power-hitting left-handed bats in their lineup, but if you have a chance to add the modern day equivalent of Babe Ruth, you find a way to make it happen. Plus, the designated hitter spot is currently vacant as Justin Turner turned down his 2024 player option and is currently a free agent.

Who knows how Ohtani’s recovery will go as far as being an elite or plus-level starter again come 2025 and beyond. That seems a multi-million-dollar chance a number of teams would be willing to take. Perhaps friend, Red Sox outfielder and fellow Japanese national teammate Masataka Yoshida could help in the recruiting process as well?

The Los Angeles Dodgers are the betting favorites for Ohtani’s services, with reports that the San Francisco Giants will be all in as well. And who wouldn’t be, really? Both of those teams are on the West Coast. If Ohtani would consider coming to the East Coast, then everyone from John Henry to Big Papi to Mayor Wu to Ben Affleck should get ready to roll out the red carpet and start the campaign. Maybe they could help take his fondness for visiting Boston to a love of living down the street from friendly Fenway.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Getty Images