Free Agent Profile: Shohei Ohtani is this winter’s top free agent despite off-season elbow surgery
Photo credit:© Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
1 month ago
The biggest name on this winter’s free agent market is Shohei Ohtani, the two-way superstar who’s set to sign the biggest contract in baseball history.
This is a new Blue Jays Nation series that will look at free agents in the upcoming off-season. In this series, we’ll look to answer how the free agent performed in 2023, how much money they’re likely to make on their next contract, and if they are a fit for the Blue Jays.
Shohei Ohtani’s 2023:
It should come as no surprise that Shohei Ohtani once again was one of the best players on the planet. With the bat, he slashed .304/.412/.654 with 44 homers in 599 plate appearances. That’s the highest batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage of his career, while he fell just two home runs short of matching his career high. Furthermore, Ohtani had a career-high 15.2 BB%, and a career-best 23.9%.
The 29-year-old also pitched and, surprise, surprise, was pretty darn good at it. Ohtani had a 3.14 ERA and a 4 FIP in 132 innings pitched, along with a 31.5 K% and a 10.4 BB%. Interestingly, this was a down year for him, as the 2022 season saw him post a 2.33 ERA and a 2.40 FIP in 166 innings, along with a 33.2 K% and a 6.7 BB%.
Ohtani had surgery on his elbow and won’t pitch during the 2024 season. The team who signs Ohtani will get his elite left-handed bat and will hope that he’s able to be effective on the mound again in the future.
What will Shohei Ohtani’s contract be like:
It’s no secret that Ohtani is set to become the highest-paid player of all time in baseball, even though he won’t pitch in 2024.
In a recent Jim Bowden article for The Athletic, he predicted that Ohtani would sign a ten-year, $477,000,000 deal with incentives to get it over $500 million. However, it wouldn’t be all too surprising if a team offers him a record-breaking $50 million dollar salary every year for ten years, he’s just that good.
Is Shohei Ohtani a fit for the Blue Jays:
Although he won’t pitch in 2024, Ohtani’s bat alone is worth the signing cost. This is a guy who can hit for power, average, and gets on base. He’d be a perfect three-hole hitter for the Jays, driving in Bo Bichette on the regular. He also has speed on the bases, successfully stealing 20 bases in 26 attempts last season, and is 86 for 116 in his six-year career.
On top of all that, he’s on track to pitch again in 2025. That’s important for the Blue Jays, as Yusei Kikuchi will become a free agent after that season. The Jays may also need a starter in 2024, depending on what the plan is for Alek Manoah, but Ohtani would not impact that decision.
The Blue Jays aren’t far away from being pushed over the top and Ohtani could be the game-changer that gets them there. There’s no doubt that Rogers has a bank account deep enough to compete with the richest owners out there but the question is whether they’d be comfortable investing so much into one player, even if the marketing potential of Ohtani in a city like Toronto is off the charts.
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