Dodgers Rumors: Will rising cost for Shohei Ohtani force LA to consider alternatives?

World Baseball Classic Championship: United States v Japan
World Baseball Classic Championship: United States v Japan / Eric Espada/GettyImages

The eventual Shohei Ohtani free agency sweepstakes will be well-documented throughout the 2023 season, even though the two-way star's market isn't expected to be wide-ranging. The Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets figure to be the main players, with others like the LA Angels, NY Yankees, San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners expected to be "involved."

That's nothing new. Neither is the buzz that continues to mount in relation Ohtani's price when he hits the open market. At first, it was believed he'd beat Mike Trout's record-setting contract. Then it was speculated Ohtani could be the first $500 million man in history. Now? Try $600 million, pal. The guy's an international star and very much helped increase viewership during the World Baseball Classic.

Just think of the financial advantages whatever teams lands him next offseason will have for the next decade or so, especially if he can continue playing at a high level for at least half the contract.

Earlier in March, ESPN's Buster Olney speculated on a radio show that the $600 million Ohtani number that would likely result in a bidding war between the Dodgers and Mets. On Thursday, he doubled down on that figure on live television.

In an appearance on ESPN's Get Up, Olney actually said Ohtani's next contract will start with "the number six." At least $600 million?!

Dodgers Rumors: Shohei Ohtani price tag increasing by the minute

Sorry, didn't tell you the good news first! Olney also said, "It's amazing when you talk to folks around baseball, how many believe Ohtani will end up with the Dodgers next year."

And it makes sense. The Dodgers cut their spending and have set themselves up to be financially flexible for the foreseeable future. They will also, quite literally, need Ohtani next year, with a bunch of other key players hitting free agency and the lack of star pitching/impact bats they'll have once 2023 comes to a close.

But ... $600 million? At least? Over 11 years? That's at least a $54.5 million AAV on a long-term contract, with Mookie Betts making between $30.4 million and $35.4 million through 2032 and Freddie Freeman earning $27 million through 2027. Not to mention, if the Dodgers lose both Clayton Kershaw and Julio Urías, what in the world would the plan for the rotation be? Gavin Stone and Bobby Miller could end up being a great foundation, but we've yet to see it. We've also yet to see consistency in the performance and health department from Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin.

That's why fans have to wonder if this ever-increasing price is something the Dodgers would be willing to stomach, with so many other needs to consider. Are they about to go nuclear, à la Steve Cohen, and blow past a $300 million payroll? Because their patchwork efforts displayed this offseason in accompanying a move for Ohtani certainly won't cut it. Look at what's happening across town, even as Ohtani is paired with the other best player in baseball.

Ohtani on the Dodgers? Great. Make it happen. But don't stop there, because this roster will be wildly incomplete if there's not enough support that comes with it.