The biggest fish in the MLB free-agency pond has every big-market team digging deep into their tackle box for shiny bait.
Whoever lands Shohei Ohtani is expected to ink the double-threat sensation to historic contract term and value.
Since last winter, the buzz has been that Ohtani is likely to remain on the West Coast.
Given that the two-time AL MVP has never sniffed the playoffs in his tenure with the Angels, another priority is legitimate contention.
The one team that lives in the center of that Venn diagram is the Dodgers, which is why they have been market favorites since the beginning of speculation.
Despite only one World Series title in the past decade, the Dodgers have been perennial contenders with 11 straight trips to the postseason — 10 by winning the NL West.
Adding Ohtani to the mix would instantly boost them to 2024 World Series favorites.
The Dodgers have cleared the payroll space and it would be one heck of a turnaround if Ohtani ends up elsewhere. At +110 at DraftKings/Illinois, the Dodgers are listed at fair value, but Ohtani isn’t just looking for whoever’s willing to pony up the most cash. The priority is proving he’s the best.
If he can win while doing so, geography and money moves to the back burner.
After undergoing elbow surgery in September, Ohtani won’t pitch in 2024. Not that it makes any difference to how these teams will approach him, but for the purposes of his immediate fit, he will be looking to slide into a lineup for an auspicious season at the plate.
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If you’re seeking a dark-horse candidate, the reigning champion Rangers check in at +900 odds. They are reported to be all-in this offseason and have a vacant designated hitter spot awaiting Ohtani.
He would remain in the AL West and put them on the fast track toward defending their title.
THE PLAY: Rangers to sign Shohei Ohtani (+900)