MLB Rumors: 3 new teams that can suddenly afford Shohei Ohtani

Shohei Ohtani's injury will reset the market and open the door for these three teams to sign the star free agent.
Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani
Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani / Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
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Shohei Ohtani was heading for a free agency frenzy following the 2023 season with contract talks likely to begin at half a billion dollars.

But after it was announced that a UCL injury will keep him off the mound for the rest of the season and could require Tommy John surgery, the equation has changed.

Buster Olney of ESPN reported that teams may now look to pay Ohtani as a position player exclusively, with incentives bolstering whatever contract he receives on the pitching side. He was previously looking at $500 million and more as a two-way player. Now he's looking at something closer to $350 million.

"The numbers are going to come down dramatically," Olney said.

While that's bad news for Ohtani, it might be good news for the dark horse teams pursuing him.

No. 3 team that can suddenly afford Shohei Ohtani: Baltimore Orioles

If declaring yourself "America's Team" wasn't inherently obnoxious, the Orioles would be America's Team. They're young, they're fun and they're headed for big things.

They have one of the lowest payrolls in baseball as well, but they're also not interested in rising up those ranks. So while they were an intriguing option as a trade partner for the Angels ahead of the MLB trade deadline, the idea they'd get involved in the free agency fracas was always slim.

What about now though?

Not only is Ohtani's contract value cut down by the injury, but the number of years he's likely to agree to on this deal will also shrink. Baltimore wouldn't have to completely change their ethos to add him to a lineup that's already ahead of schedule and looking to contend. He could be the final piece.

The bigger issue for the Orioles is convincing Ohtani to come to Baltimore, which isn't likely to be high on his list of MLB cities to move to. Still, if he wants to win, he could do worse.