Though they didn’t catch any substantial fish – Andrew Benintendi, Frankie Montas and Scott Effross are probably a tick below – the recently-passed trade deadline proved the New York Yankees intend to go big-game hunting this offseason to improve their World Series hopes regardless of whether they win it all this year.
Per reports, the AL East leaders were involved in the Juan Soto sweepstakes before the 23-year-old phenom was dealt to San Diego.
Perhaps even more noteworthy, though, is the Yankees reportedly made a “serious” offer to the perennially disappointing Angels for Shohei Ohtani, per the New York Post’s Jon Heyman. An Ohtani trade never felt realistic, but the two-way sensation might not be long for Anaheim as the team continues to stumble despite boasting two of the game’s biggest stars.
Slated to become a free agent after the 2023 season, Ohtani could spurn the Angels if the club continues to stew in mediocrity. That would seemingly put the reigning AL MVP in play for the Yankees, but a report from The Athletic’s Jayson Stark suggests that’s anything but the case.
Don’t count on Shoehi Ohtani joining the Yankees after 2023.
Here’s what one MLB exec said about Ohtani’s looming free agency.
"I don’t think he’s an East Coast guy. My first instinct is to say Dodgers or Giants. But I actually don’t think he would go to the Dodgers just because it would look like he’s sticking it to the Angels. I could see him going to Seattle. But West Coast. That’s my guess."
Before Ohtani signed with the Angels during the 2017 offseason, there was a general understanding the then-Nippon Ham Fighters superstar preferred a move to a team in a smaller market on the west coast. Thus, the Mariners, Giants, Dodgers, Padres and Rangers were the finalists to land Ohtani’s signature before the Halo’s ultimately won the sweepstakes.
If this executive’s hunch is accurate, it looks like we could have a repeat of 2017 after next season, excluding the Padres, whose ever-evolving payroll will likely place them out of contention for Ohtani.
From a Yankees perspective, it’s better to know ahead of time that they (seemingly) have no chance at signing Ohtani. This way they won’t waste any time pursuing the two-time All-Star and set their sights on other high-profile free agents.
Ohtani is the clear headliner of the class, but it could feature fellow sluggers Manny Machado (if he opts out), Rafael Devers and Cody Bellinger.
In terms of starting pitching, the top frontline starters include Luis Castillo, Lucas Giolito, Tyler Glasnow, Jack Flaherty, Yu Darvish and Carlos Rodon, so the Yankees will have plenty of alternatives to pursue … even if none of them ultimately stack up to Ohtani in terms of value given he’s one of the game’s most feared sluggers and currently flaunts a 2.83 ERA as a pitcher.