Just when you thought the Yankees were done having to worry about Shohei Ohtani, the face of baseball, winding up in the AL East, a new suitor has emerged.
The Boston Red Sox were the talk of the Ohtani sweepstakes as the year wound down -- or, at least, Red Sox Twitter made absolutely certain you couldn't separate their franchise from the Ohtani sweepstakes with an insipid whirlwind of inexplicable self-doubt. "He loves New Balance, so he is coming, but do we even need him? We have a lot of DH options." UGH. Infuriating.
Fortunately, Boston's pitch was mostly bluster and endorsement word association; the Sox were among the first teams eliminated -- sorry, among the first teams that "decided to focus their resources elsewhere" -- before the Winter Meetings began, along with the Rangers and Mets.
That left the Dodgers as the clear front-runners for the superstar's services, with the Cubs and Giants still hanging -- I'm sorry, what's this? The Blue Jays manager is changing his media availability around? Their GM just went virtual? Nobody's in Nashville? That means ... yup, the whole contingent met with Ohtani on Monday in Florida, per Ken Rosenthal. Neat.
Yankees' fears could be realized with Shohei Ohtani joining AL East
At least the schedule has changed and AL East teams no longer play one another 19 times a year. So we've got that going for us.
Wait, does Rosenthal's report technically invalidate the meeting? Does this qualify as a leak? Oh, superagent Nez Bolelo, I have some tattling to doooo ...
The Dodgers have long felt like the stagnant incumbent in the Ohtani chase, the given assumption that everyone ignores until, one day, the player in question pivots in an "unexpected" direction. It's also not surprising that a new alternative has emerged prior to Decision Day. The Giants' ballpark and their massive right field wall aren't exactly conducive to left-handed power (though Farhan Zaidi will tell you Barry Bonds loved hitting there). The Cubs aren't on the West Coast, and don't represent a landing spot that guarantees annual contention. The Mariners would be enticing, but they've largely ignored the discourse so far.
The Jays check most of Ohtani's boxes, whether they're in on Juan Soto or not. It's a massive metropolis, but still one you can disappear into. It's a competitive team that plays the Red Sox, Yankees, Orioles and Rays tough annually, with an exciting young core and a beefed-up rotation. It's a team young enough to span generations, if they can add a centerpiece.
Look on the bright side, Yankee fans. At least, if they land Ohtani, they probably won't extend Vlad Jr.?
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