Shohei Ohtani was never a guarantee to sign with the Los Angeles Dodgers, no matter how many analysts and talking heads deemed them the favorite. Remember when the New York Yankees were the favorite to sign him back in 2018, and they instead were the first team to be notified he didn't want to play for them?
Matters have further been complicated in regard to the Dodgers' likely offseason pursuit of Ohtani. For one, the two-way star suffered another partially torn UCL and probably won't be able to pitch until 2025 (and there's definitely an outside chance he sits out 2024 altogether).
Additionally, it seems his list of suitors is coming into focus, as MLB insider Jon Heyman relayed via his intel on MLB Network recently. As expected, Heyman has the Dodgers atop the group, but the other contenders that follow aren't anything to sneeze at.
The Padres, Cubs, Rangers, Giants and Red Sox offer favorable destinations to varying degrees. So when MLB insider Ken Rosenthal says Ohtani and his team aren't close to picking their desired landing spot, the Dodgers can't be feeling overly confident about their chances.
Ohtani would legitimately have the opportunity to star in all of those other markets -- as opposed to LA where Clayton Kershaw, Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman are top dogs.
New reported list of Shohei Ohtani suitors could mean trouble for Dodgers
The Padres, for as bad as they've been, are still an attractive team given their talent, potential and willingness to spend. The Cubs look to be back and recently signed fellow Japanese star Seiya Suzuki. The Rangers are built nicely for the future and are 1-2 pieces away from being a bonafide World Series contender. The Giants have enough financial flexibility to bring on Ohtani and surround him with more talent. The Red Sox have been one of the best teams in the league over the last two decades and are still a version of baseball royalty, despite their recent fall off.
The Padres have multiple $300 million contracts on the books. The Dodgers, Rangers and Red Sox all have one. The Cubs and Giants have none. That could play a role, too, when evaluating the rosters to see what else is needed to support Ohtani.
The Dodgers might be in a tough position because their greatest need is pitching, which is the most expensive asset both in free agency and on the trade market. Each of those other teams have better starting rotation outlooks than the Dodgers right now.
Additionally, we'd probably include the Mets here, especially since they're projecting to contend in 2025 and Ohtani won't be fully healthy to play both sides of the ball until then.
Ohtani's market might be more expansive than we could've imagined, even for a player expected to earn the largest contract in league history. Not to mention, more can get in on the bidding if they see an opportunity to include a lot of non-guaranteed money because of his injury situation.
It's just very far from a lock for the Dodgers, and fans need to be aware of that, as the coming months fast approach.