MLB Rumors: 7 Shohei Ohtani free agent fits, including new dark horse candidates

The Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes will be fierce even after UCL injury.
Angels starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani
Angels starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani / Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
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In the offseason, when Shohei Ohtani becomes a free agent, it will start a bidding war unlike baseball or American sports has ever seen.

Even if Ohtani undergoes Tommy John surgery after tearing his right UCL, his future contract is expected to top $500 million. There will be a massive amount of big market teams involved, headlined by the Los Angeles Dodgers, who have long coveted the superstar two-way players services.

Let’s dive into some free-agent fits for Ohtani.

Shohei Ohtani free agency fits: Los Angeles Angels

The Angels holding onto Ohtani at the 2022 and 2023 trade deadline signaled what was already obvious: that the team is going to make a significant push to re-sign Ohtani.

Ohtani will surely test free agency – he’s only weeks away from hitting the market – and the bidding war is surely going to result in the richest contract in American sports history. So the Angels will have competition. A lot of it.

But the Angels seem determined to make a major push to keep Ohtani. But with the team on the verge of missing the postseason again, their chances of retaining him appear to be dwindling by the day.

Shohei Ohtani free agency fits: Los Angeles Dodgers

Before Ohtani’s injury, the Dodgers were considered to be among the frontrunners, if not the frontrunner, for the two-way superstar when he becomes a free agent. They have the money to spend. They have the roster flexibility. They have the roster talent and overall playoff pedigree that Ohtani desires.

It remains to be seen just how much the injury impacts the Dodgers’ pursuit of Ohtani, or if it will at all. But until I’m told otherwise, I’ll have the Dodgers at No. 1 in my Ohtani fits as a free agent. 

Shohei Ohtani free agency fits: Texas Rangers

I think this is the team that shouldn’t be slept on in the Ohtani sweepstakes. They have swung big in recent offseasons with the signings of Corey Seager, Marcus Semien, and Jacob deGrom. They have swung big midseason trades to acquire Max Scherzer and Jordan Montgomery. And they have a lot of money to spend. 

Given their rotation depth, the Rangers can be patient with Ohtani should he undergo Tommy John surgery. They can keep him in the lineup while he recovers and prepares to pitch in 2025. This is one to watch come the offseason.