MLB Expert doubt Yankees’ Ohtani connection: Is a deal on the horizon?

Yankees' target Shohei Ohtani

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Shohei Ohtani‘s highly anticipated foray into free agency has arrived following the expiration of his contract with the Los Angeles Angels. After six seasons in Anaheim without a taste of playoff baseball, Ohtani is poised to explore potential new baseball homes. However, one major player is expected to remain absent from the Ohtani sweepstakes, as John Harper of SNY doubts the New York Yankees‘ willingness to vie for the Japanese superstar’s services.

“I just don’t see Hal Steinbrenner going to that extreme. Even with the elbow injury, he’s not going to pitch next year, his bidding going to start at $400 million almost, and I don’t think Hal’s going there. I think they’re going to find other ways,” expressed John Harper, a correspondent for SNY.

Yankees’ spending history at crossroads

The Yankees have a history of deep pockets and big free-agent contracts, as evidenced by their recent signing of 2022 MVP Aaron Judge to a nine-year, $360 million deal. The presence of similarly massive contracts belonging to Gerrit Cole and Giancarlo Stanton on the Yankees’ payroll indicates Steinbrenner’s willingness to spend to build the roster he desires. However, with the Yankees experiencing their first season without playoff baseball since 2016, a change in their philosophy may be in the offing, leading them to prioritize cost-cutting over further expenditures, despite Ohtani’s extraordinary talents.

Could Ohtani join the Yankees?

Yankees' target Shohei Ohtani delivers a pitch during a game.

Across town, the New York Mets, led by owner Steve Cohen, share the big-market appeal and substantial financial resources that could make them contenders for Ohtani’s services. This marks the second opportunity for the Mets to pursue this year’s presumed AL MVP, as they have previously expressed interest in him. Ohtani would join countryman Kodai Senga, superstar Francisco Lindor, and slugger Pete Alonso at Citi Field, creating a formidable lineup that would undoubtedly capture the imagination of baseball fans.

Early reports suggest that Ohtani will still command a massive contract, even though he won’t be able to pitch in the upcoming season due to his elbow injury sustained in late August.

Meanwhile, the Angels’ in-state rival, the Los Angeles Dodgers, also appears to be in contention for Ohtani’s services, particularly if their transitional roster falls short of winning the World Series in 2023. While it seems unlikely that Ohtani will don the pinstripes of the Yankees, the bidding war could potentially ensue between the Yankees’ in-state rival and the Halos’ in-state rival for one of the most extraordinary talents baseball has ever seen.

In an earlier article published by Bleach Reporter, it was highlighted that Shohei Ohtani remains committed to achieving success with the Los Angeles Angels, despite persistent Yankees trade rumors. Ohtani’s commitment to the Angels was demonstrated in a recent game against the New York Yankees when he hit a game-tying two-run homer in the seventh inning, setting up a walk-off victory for the Angels.

Yankees' target Shohei Ohtani delivers a bat.

After the game, Angels manager Phil Nevin emphasized Ohtani’s determination to win in Los Angeles, saying that everything Ohtani does is calculated to make him the best player in the world and contribute to winning. Nevin stated, “Everything else that comes along with that is great, but he wants to win, in the worst way. This has been frustrating for him in these last two weeks, as it’s been for everybody. But you can see it on him. He wants to win. He wants to win here.”

As the Yankees struggle without Aaron Judge, much attention is focused on general manager Brian Cashman and his potential moves to bolster the roster before the trade deadline. ESPN’s Buster Olney reported that the Yankees are among the most motivated teams to pursue Ohtani if he becomes available, given their aging core group of players like Judge, Gerrit Cole, and Giancarlo Stanton, who are all over 30 years old and in “win-now” mode.

However, the Yankees’ pursuit of Ohtani will depend on whether the Angels decide to trade him. According to MLB Network’s Jon Morosi, the Angels are open to listening to trade offers for Ohtani, but any potential deal would require the involvement of “multiple top-100 type prospects.” Trading multiple top prospects during the season for a player in his walk year is a rare occurrence in baseball.

Shohei Ohtani is undoubtedly one of the most impactful players in MLB, capable of both hitting in the middle of the order and serving as a frontline starting pitcher. The Yankees, currently struggling with their offense and pitching rotation, would benefit greatly from Ohtani’s versatile skills if they aim to make the playoffs and contend for a World Series title. Their offense ranks poorly in several key categories, and their record in the AL East is far from stellar.

On the other hand, the Angels have faced their own challenges, losing the majority of their recent games, despite Ohtani’s remarkable performance. Their overall record places them behind the Houston Astros in the race for the third wild card spot in the American League.

Yankees' target Shohei Ohtani delivers a pitch during the All-Star Games, 2023.

Ohtani’s statistics speak for themselves, with an impressive .306/.391/.677 slash line, 35 home runs, 75 RBIs, and 11 stolen bases as a hitter, as well as a 3.50 ERA and 139 strikeouts in 105.1 innings as a pitcher. His dual-threat abilities make him a game-changer who could significantly impact the outcome of a playoff race.

In conclusion, while the New York Yankees may have reservations about pursuing Shohei Ohtani in the upcoming free agency sweepstakes, the competition for his services remains fierce, with teams like the New York Mets and the Los Angeles Dodgers emerging as potential contenders. Ohtani’s commitment to the Los Angeles Angels is evident, but the trade rumors surrounding him persist, and his unique skills make him a highly coveted asset in the world of baseball. The future destination of this extraordinary Japanese superstar is sure to be a topic of intense speculation and anticipation among baseball fans in the coming months.

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