MLB Rumors: Red Sox have one distinct advantage in the Shohei Ohtani chase

MLB Rumors: Red Sox have one distinct advantage in the Shohei Ohtani chase

ESPN’s Jeff Passan notes how the Boston Red Sox may have an advantage in signing free agent Shohei Ohtani.

Hot Stove season has begun, with teams evaluating their rosters to see how far they are from contending for the World Series. The easiest way to help with those odds is to add free agents. One player who would significantly increase any team’s odds of hoisting the Commissioner’s Trophy is Shohei Ohtani, the lugger and ace pitcher for the Los Angeles Angels. There hasn’t been a two-way star as dominant as Ohtani, and he could very well command the richest contract in MLB history this winter.

There are going to be plenty of teams in the running for Ohtani’s services. Whether they are contenders or teams that missed out on the playoffs last season. When it comes to a team that holds an advantage, it is the Boston Red Sox.

ESPN’s Jeff Passan wrote his offseason preview and predictions column (subscription required) and detailed the Shohei Ohtani situation. When talking about Ohtani and the Red Sox, Passan says that the two-way superstar “loves visiting Boston and has a fondness for Fenway Park.”

Red Sox free agency rumors: Shohei Ohtani ‘loves ‘ Boston

Ohtani was linked to the Red Sox through the New Balance apparel and sneaker brand, which is based in Boston and with whom he has an endorsement deal. Of course, the location of his sponsored company likely won’t make or break his decision in free agency. But the fact he “loves” Boston and likes Fenway Park certainly will get Red Sox fans excited this winter.

Passan notes that through sources, Ohtani “has expressed affinity for certain teams and cities in the past.” For the Los Angeles Dodgers, Ohtani respects their “winning ways, their ability to develop players, and their progressive coaching approach. For the Texas Rangers, Ohtani “appreciates” them because they expressed interest in him when he was still playing baseball in Japan.

Both those teams and the Red Sox are expected to be in on Ohtani. But, Passan writes that “though the industry’s overwhelming expectation is that he winds up with the Dodgers, that line of thinking is perhaps presumptive.”

Ohtani is coming off a 2023 season in which he recorded a .304 batting average, a .412 on-base percentage (AL-leading), a .654 slugging percentage (MLB-leading), a 1.066 OPS (MLB-leading), 44 home runs (AL-leading), 95 RBI, 102 runs, and 151 hits in 497 at-bats. As a pitcher, Ohtani recorded a 3.14 ERA, a 1.061 WHIP, 167 strikeouts, and 55 walks in 132.0 innings.

It will remain to be seen which team ends up with Ohtani, but Red Sox fans have to be happy about their chances seeing this latest update.

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