Dodgers rumors: Shohei Ohtani to switch positions after surgery rehab?

Los Angeles Dodgers v San Diego Padres
Los Angeles Dodgers v San Diego Padres / Sean M. Haffey/GettyImages

Against all odds, Shohei Ohtani is looking like he could be the first viable DH candidate to win an MVP award since David Ortiz (who never actually won the award, but did get votes eight times throughout his 20-year career). Ohtani is hitting .352 with a 1.090 OPS so far this season with no signs of slowing down. He leads MLB in slugging and OPS, and is right on Steven Kwan's heels in batting average, even after sitting out during Monday's game because of a minor back issue.

And this is while Ohtani can't even do half of what makes him The Unicorn — pitch. His elbow surgery at the end of last season will keep him from pitching throughout 2024, and while the Dodgers have equivocated on but haven't totally ruled out the possibility of him taking up a position in the field sometime later in the season, he won't be on the mound at all.

However, Bob Nightengale gave us some reason to worry that he'll never see a pitching debut with the Dodgers at all, reporting that "two persons familiar with Ohtani’s thinking say he’d likely be amenable" if the Dodgers asked him to move into a permanent outfield role in the future.

Could Shohei Ohtani give up pitching and move into an everyday outfielder role for the Dodgers?

On a certain level, moving Ohtani to the outfield could make sense. The Dodgers only have Jason Heyward and Teoscar Hernández through this season, and the rotation is likely to get Tony Gonsolin and Dustin May back next season on top of Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Tyler Glasnow, and Gavin Stone, whose recent number change indicates that he's in the majors to stay for a while. There's also no telling how Ohtani might look as a pitcher after his second arm surgery, and injury problems could be exacerbated if he returns to pitching full-throttle on top of DH'ing daily.

However, losing Ohtani as a pitcher would also be, simply put, a shame. While he's already made it clear that he's one of the best hitters in the game and is a special player even when he's not pitching, him never doing it again would take away the thing that really makes him singular in baseball.

While being amenable to a potential request and actually being asked to stop pitching are two very different things, and the Dodgers will definitely want to see how his throwing progression goes before making any career-altering requests, this is one to keep an eye on.