What I’m hearing: Shohei Ohtani mega-deal opens the floodgates, Josh Hader, Yoshinobu Yamamoto

With Shohei Ohtani signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the free-agent market has already heated up. Here's a glimpse into what the next 10-14 days will look like.

Oakland Athletics v Los Angeles Angels
Oakland Athletics v Los Angeles Angels / Ronald Martinez/GettyImages

The common theme heard from agents, executives and even players at the Winter Meetings in Nashville was that Shohei Ohtani was holding up the free-agent market.

Never before has baseball seen a free agent of the magnitude of Ohtani. He’s a unicorn, a perennial MVP candidate who is capable of hitting 40-plus home runs and throwing over 100mph. He’ll hit in 2024 and return to the mound in 2025 as he recovers from elbow surgery. But he still secured a whopping 10-year, $700 million contract from the Los Angeles Dodgers that includes an unprecedented $680 million in deferred money – which was Ohtani’s idea, major-league sources told FanSided, confirming a report from Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic.

The contract structure allows the Dodgers to continue to be aggressive after free agents, including Yoshinobu Yamamoto. The team has also had conversations with the Tampa Bay Rays about right-hander  Tyler Glasnow, who is widely expected to be traded this offseason. Really, with the way the Ohtani contract is structured, the Dodgers can pursue anyone they want. Which is exactly what Ohtani had in mind.

But the truth is that the Ohtani signing opened the floodgates to the offseason. One prominent agent said that he “expects some dominoes to move now.”

When asked what dominoes those could be, he responded: “All of it.”

Expect MLB free agency to take off with Shohei Ohtani deal done

It sets up what is going to be a hectic next 10-14 days before Christmas in a free-agent market that is expected to be extremely active. There will be plenty of signings and trades, with the starting pitcher market expected to see the majority of the action. The list of starters available includes Yamamoto, Blake Snell, Jordan Montgomery, Marcus Stroman, Shoto Imanaga, Lucas Giolito and Jack Flaherty, among others.

Yamamoto, who is drawing interest from most big-market teams, is expected to secure a contract for at least $250 million. The market for star closer Josh Hader is expected to pick up and it’s very possible he lands a deal in excess of Edwin Diaz’s $102 million contract. Seth Lugo, who opted out of his contract with the Padres, looks like a strong candidate to receive a three-year deal.

There are lower tier options, such as Noah Syndergaard and Eric Lauer, who are drawing interest. Put simply: there has never been a better time to be a free-agent starting pitcher.

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