Throughout the offseason the CBS Sports MLB experts will bring you a weekly Batting Around roundtable breaking down pretty much anything. The latest news, a historical question, thoughts about the future of baseball, all sorts of stuff. . This week we're going to do the same with Shohei Ohtani.
Where will Ohtani sign? How much will he get?
Dayn Perry: I'm aware that the Dodgers seem like the favorites to land him, but I'll depart from that consensus and say he inks with the Rangers for something like $510 million. Ohtani has hinted on multiple occasions that winning will be a priority in choosing his destination, and Texas is of course coming off a championship season. They project as contenders for years to come, and their ownership group has been willing spenders in recent years. The Rangers also have a need at DH with the free agency of Mitch Garver, and by the time Ohtani is ready to pitch again in 2025 the Rangers will have Max Scherzer and Andrew Heaney likely headed to free agency (or possible retirement in Scherzer's case). The two sides just check a lot of boxes for each other, so I'm going Texas.
Matt Snyder: I'll stick with the Dodgers. They've been preparing to make a run at him for the last two years, have arguably the deepest pockets in baseball, have natural fits for him on the roster and might have a regional advantage.
In terms of the fit, Dodgers DH J.D. Martinez is a free agent and the lineup last year needed more depth anyway. Ohtani obviously can't pitch in 2024, but the rotation needs multiple fixes for 2025 and beyond. There's no telling where Clayton Kershaw will be and Walker Buehler is set to hit free agency after 2024. Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin could be back for 2025 while it's possible youngsters like Ryan Pepiot, Bobby Miller and Emmet Sheehan might have established themselves as rotation fixtures by then. Basically, it's nothing but question marks.
On the regional comment, Ohtani has spent his entire MLB career with the Angels, so it wouldn't be much of a move to join the Dodgers.
And finally, the deep pockets. I think the Dodgers beat every offer. As for how much, I'll start with Aaron Judge. He hit free agency coming off an MVP season and was a year older than Ohani is. He got nine years and $360 million. Given the extra year of youth and that Ohtani will very likely be a great pitcher again in addition to his Judge-comparable offense, we need to add something like $100 milllion on there at the same length, I think, along with possibly another year. I'll just make it an even 10 years and $500 million.
Mike Axisa: I went with the Dodgers on a 13-year, $500 million contract in Mets. The Blue Jays are an excellent fit as well. It just feels like the Dodgers have spent the last few years aligning their payroll and roster in such a way that they can blow Ohtani away with an offer this offseason. President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman missed out on Ohtani once before and I don't think he'll be denied again., so I guess I must stick with that. I do think the Rangers are a legit threat though, and I won't discount Steve Cohen and the
As for the contract, I expect it to be complicated. The Dodgers have a thing for deferrals that lower the present day value and thus competitive balance tax charge (Freddie Freeman and Mookie Betts have significant deferrals in their contracts), so I assume they'll look to get some into Ohtani's contract as well. I could also see Ohtani pushing for an opt out, possibly after 2025, once his elbow is healthy and he has a chance to show he can still be an effective pitcher. There could be all sorts of deferrals, opt outs, bonuses, options, and whatnot in Ohtani's contract. A straight X dollars over Y years contract probably won't happen.
Ohtani to the Dodgers would almost be boring at this point, though I do think it's most likely. So likely that I would take the Dodgers over the field, and I would almost never take one single team over the field for a free agent. The Dodgers badly want him and they can offer Ohtani everything he wants. Money, a chance to contend for a World Series, and the ability to stay in Southern California, where he's presumably comfortable. It just makes so much sense. They check all the right boxes.
R.J. Anderson: I agree with Axisa that the contract is likely to be long and complicated. I do feel that the Dodgers are the favorites, too -- though I'm sure the Rangers and others will make a real run at obtaining his services. I'll go with 10 years and $500 million with a ton of opt-outs that essentially make it a series of smaller deals.