Shohei Ohtani. The most prized free agent of all time (assuming he returns fully healthy from his elbow surgery and can pitch at an elite level come 2025). Though his market will be limited, he'll be at the forefront of the offseason discussion, as Los Angeles Dodgers fans have become accustomed to.
Fans have also come to learn that this will not be a clear-cut free agency race. Many pundits, reporters and executives have linked Ohtani to the Dodgers, but isn't that the most obvious connection? Best player in league who wants to win signing with team that can pay him a ton of money and make him an annual contender. Anybody who started watching baseball three years ago could draw the parallel.
Are we forgetting the Dodgers were upset with Ohtani's free agent visit back in 2018? Are we forgetting he spurned the Yankees -- the "favorites" to sign him -- the first time around and eliminated them before anybody else? Are we forgetting he chose the lowly Angels?
There's something to the LA Times hearing Ohtani likes to defy convention, which is why the reported links to the Boston Red Sox now have everybody wondering what's to come when November arrives.
Sorry, Dodgers fans, we know you're hyper-focused on the playoffs, but anything Ohtani-related that pops across the timeline simply has to be given the proper attention, with free agency only a month away.
Dodgers Rumors: Conflicting Shohei Ohtani buzz foreshadowing free agency mystery
Here's the latest from MLB insider Jon Heyman, who doesn't even mention the Dodgers in this article:
"Shohei Ohtani and the Red Sox are starting to be linked more and more. One executive with an interested team said he believes they are a real threat.- Jon Heyman, NY Post
Ohtani has a new big deal with New Balance out of Boston. Perhaps more important: The Red Sox need to balance things out after three last-place finishes in four years."
We've known about the Red Sox potentially interrupting this chase for a little while now, but the speculation isn't dissipating. It's actually growing. That means it's important for fans to keep their heads on a swivel when the offseason arrives. Though the Red Sox have largely been incompetent (and embarrassing) since 2019, perhaps there was a deeper reason they dismissed Chaim Bloom with just a couple weeks to go in the regular season.
But hold the phone! The Dodgers-Ohtani connection also remains alive and well, and is one that predates any mention of the Red Sox, who only legitimately entered the discussion as recently as a couple of weeks ago. And when you think about it, does the New Balance CEO have more pull than the Dodgers being the most consistent and reputable team over the last decade?
Ohtani may desire to spurn the conventinal predictions, but this is his future we're talking about. His next destination will more than likely be his final home in MLB. There's a reason the Dodgers continued to be mentioned. There's a reason someone like the Red Sox just popped up as "legitimate threats." At the very least, it seems Ohtani and his representation is drumming up the intrigue to keep everybody on their toes if he eventually makes the obvious decision.
Either way, we never said this would be easy.