In case anybody was wondering about the Los Angeles Dodgers' free agency stance on Shohei Ohtani following the star's elbow injury, it reportedly remains unchanged. That's not surprising, though. It's merely confirmation of what everybody already believed.
Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times (subscription required) elaborated upon the very obvious fit and reiterated the Dodgers remain undeterred in an Ohtani pursuit even though he won't be pitching in 2024.
However, perhaps lost in that positive development for Dodgers fans was a quote from a baseball insider in regard to Ohtani's decision. Though there's plenty of excitement among LA fans because of the crumb trail that's suggested the Dodgers are the most ideal destination for the two-way star ... don't forget the New York Yankees were once upon a time just that, back in 2018.
Ohtani controls the negotiations here, and that's the end of the story. He might've lost a tiny bit of leverage because of his inability to pitch for the first year of any potential deal, but he's entering his age-29 season when 2024 arrives, meaning he'll still have, at least, ages 31-35 to put forth Cy Young campaigns.
More importantly is the fact he is going to choose where he wants to go. He will get to select from a litany of big-market contenders that are willing to spend. The Dodgers are not a shoo-in.
Positive Dodgers-Shohei Ohtani report comes with major warning
Here's what the insider told Hernandez amplifying that sentiment:
"None of this guarantees Ohtani will choose the Dodgers. One baseball insider half-joked that this column could be the kiss of death; for the Dodgers, considering Ohtani’s individualistic nature. Would a player who has spent his career defying convention sign with a team that everyone says he should pick?"- Dylan Hernandez, LA Times
Maybe Ohtani has been sick of seeing the link to the Dodgers and the countless articles written to predict his eventual choice? Maybe he's looking at LA's rotation and isn't sold on the organization's plan to fix the most important part of the roster? Maybe he doesn't want to share the spotlight with Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman and Clayton Kershaw?
Another clue could be his deal with New Balance. He could've chosen any brand to align his likeness with and he chose the most bland one of all (though we will say there's a lot of opportunity with the partnership). The Yankees represented the first shiny opportunity and he turned it down. Nike, Under Armour and others were next.
And here come the Dodgers. Either third time's a charm, or it'll represent a trend.