Volpe cherishes ‘best of the best’ Shohei Ohtani but Yankees likely to miss him

Shohei Ohtani represented Japan in the 2023 World Baseball Classic.

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Yankees rookies Anthony Volpe is excited about the idea of having Shohei Ohtani as his teammate. However, insiders believe that the Yankees are not in contention to land the Japanese two-way star in the Bronx.

The Yankees shortstop expressed his enthusiasm for the team’s potential pursuit of the premier player in Major League Baseball. In an interview with TMZ Sports, Volpe eagerly affirmed his desire to see the Yankees make a move for Shohei Ohtani during free agency.

“I mean, I think he’s the best of the best,” he added.

Yankees not among top probables to sign Shohei Ohtani

The free agent is attracting considerable interest in the market, possibly securing his second AL MVP title in three seasons, as per expectations for the upcoming award announcement. According to MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand, eight teams are projected to be contenders for Ohtani, but notably, the Yankees are not among them.

Shohei Ohtani with fans
X-@ohtanisuperstar

This absence could be attributed to the numerous challenges the Yankees face in their roster, potentially dissuading Hal Steinbrenner from making the significant financial commitment required to acquire Shohei Ohtani. Last offseason, the team allocated $562 million in contracts to sign Aaron Judge, Carlos Rodón, and Anthony Rizzo.

General manager Brian Cashman conveyed during the GM meetings this week that the team’s offseason focus is on adding two outfielders and reinforcing their pitching staff.

As of 2024, the Yankees are estimated to allocate around $253 million for payroll and luxury tax payments, excluding any prospective offseason acquisitions. Given projections by certain analysts suggesting a contract averaging at least $44 million annually for Shohei Ohtani, it might not be unexpected for the Yankees to shift their focus to other priorities.

While it might seem surprising for the Yankees to potentially pass on pursuing the sport’s biggest star, there’s speculation that they could be influenced by the belief that Ohtani may not favor certain aspects associated with playing home games at Yankee Stadium.

Shohei Ohtani enters Yankee Stadium for warm up before the Angels play the Yankees, June 30, 2021, in New York.
AP Photo/Adam Hunger

Giants are frontrunners to sign Shohei Ohtani

The San Francisco Giants are reportedly planning an aggressive pursuit to secure Shohei Ohtani, as revealed by Jon Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. Farhan Zaidi, the president of baseball operations for San Francisco, remained tight-lipped when questioned about the potential signing of the versatile Japanese superstar. However, industry insiders suggest that the Giants will actively compete for Shohei Ohtani, according to Jon Shea.

One agent suggested that the Giants would be a natural fit for the player, considering their strong position. The Rangers were also seen as a team built for long-term success. The Dodgers were mentioned as a contender, and the Yankees were considered a possibility due to their ability to make things work. The consensus was that the player had the freedom to choose, being on his own island.

Another agent expressed the opinion that the Giants had a chance to acquire Shohei Ohtani, emphasizing the significance of location in the decision-making process.

Nevertheless, the representative emphasized that while the Dodgers are anticipated to pursue Shohei Ohtani, they should be considered the frontrunners to secure his services.

The Giants are widely anticipated to actively seek top-tier talent, given their lackluster performance in the previous offseason and two consecutive seasons without making the playoffs. During the last winter, San Francisco emerged as a prominent contender for Aaron Judge’s signature, maintaining interest until the eventual 2022 American League MVP decided to recommit to the Yankees.

shohei-ohtani
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Judge engaged in discussions with the Giants around Thanksgiving, showing apparent interest in the possibility of joining San Francisco. The team reportedly made an offer in the ballpark of the $360 million figure he eventually accepted from the Yankees.

The Giants were on the verge of finalizing a 13-year, $350 million deal with Carlos Correa. However, the agreement fell apart due to apprehensions arising from concerns about Correa’s surgically repaired right ankle, which became apparent during a medical examination.

Despite undergoing shoulder surgery that will sideline him from pitching until 2025, Shohei Ohtani is anticipated to secure an unprecedented contract this offseason. According to Jon Heyman of The Post, industry insiders foresee a baseline figure of $500 million for Ohtani’s contract, with the possibility of it reaching as high as $600 million.

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