Poll: Should Red Sox pursue Ohtani, other top FA’s this winter?
It was just a few days ago that Peter Gammons, one of the most respected voices in baseball, said he had it on good authority that Shohei Ohtani could be interested in Boston, due to his business with the shoe/workout brand New Balance.
Yesterday, Ohtani underwent a procedure on his elbow to strengthen his torn UCL in his pitching elbow. The two-way star's agent said the procedure was a success and that Ohtani will be ready to hit by Opening Day 2024, and will be ready to pitch again for the '25 season.
The series of season-ending injuries certainly put a damper on Ohtani's stock, which was forecasting contract offers worth possibly half a billion dollars. But the guy is still the odds on favorite to win a 2nd AL MVP award in three years and was one of the best all-around hitters in the game this season, slashing .304/44/95 with 8 triples, 102 runs, a .412 OBP, a 1.066 OPS and 6.0 WAR in 135 games (497 AB’s). Those numbers alone are enough to still command a massive deal.
So should the Sox get in on the pursuit? When it comes to the Sox, they need an influx of talent, obviously, on a squad trending towards a third last-place finish in the last four years. But the club also needs an injection of excitement, especially with the apathy that's surrounded the team post-trade deadline, and that's exactly what Ohtani would bring.
You talk about game changer? He would immediately become the biggest free agent signing in the history of the club, and one of the biggest moves they've ever made. I hesitate to tell people they're wrong, because you know the saying about opinions, but that's not opinion, it's just fact. So, if you disagree, yeah, you're wrong. It would be the kind of move that would automatically vault the Sox up the Boston sports totem poll and back near their rightful place at the top in the city, and as one of the sport's biggest brands.
Now, do I think it's likely? Not so much, unless the new president of baseball operations has a blank checkbook and a penchant for spending.
So who are the other top options?
Meet Yoshinobu Yamamoto. If you haven't heard the name yet, you will. He's the most prized Japanese prospect since Ohtani, and one of the country's greatest-ever pitching talents. Yamamoto is expected to get posted by the Orix Buffaloes this winter and will have all the top teams in MLB vying for his services.
The Yankees are already thought to be putting together a $150-million package together for the 25-year-old sensation, who is 15-6 with a miniscule 1.26 era and 155 strikeouts in 157 innings pitched over 22 starts in the NPB this year. He also owns a tidy 1.75 era for his career over seven seasons and 186 games.
Other top MLB free agents include Cody Bellinger (.310/26/94) who has got his career back on track in a big way during this season with the Cubs, Blake Snell (14-9/2.33/227) who has regained his Cy Young form in San Diego, and Aaron Nola (12-9/4.62/186) who may not have the most gaudy numbers you've ever seen, but is a solid No. 3 starter in most any rotation.
Whether it's a long shot or not, here's to hoping Boston is in the conversation for at least one of the top FA's this winter, rather than heading back to the bargain rack.