According to Locked on Yankees, the 27-time World Series champions will not target Shohei Ohtani in free agency. This makes sense, as the Yankees are now heavily involved in acquiring Juan Soto and Yoshinobu Yamamoto. The Yankees are staying away from Ohtani due to his unknown health issues. Ohtani could not finish the best season of his career after needing a second Tommy John Surgery. Many organizations question whether he will still be at current market value following rehab. The Yankees, among other organizations, do not know if he can pitch again. Teams would pay Ohtani based on his pitching and hitting abilities in free agency. If Ohtani is unable to pitch, his market value halves. There is the possibility of a huge overpay despite Ohtani being the most talented player in baseball.
For example, a team may pay Ohtani 70 million a year because his pitching and hitting value is around 35 million. If a team pays Ohtani the 70 million a year and he no longer pitches as a starter, you can see why teams may be gun-shy. The money paid for Ohtani could be used for other players, which would more effectively boost their team’s overall performance. In addition, Ohtani pitches every six days. The team that acquires him would have to sign or have available another starter. There are too many unknowns with Shohei Ohtani despite being a once-in-a-lifetime player, which makes sense why the Yankees are avoiding him in free agency. The Yankees are looking at other targets to fill their needs who have a better track record of health, something the Yankees can no longer overlook.
The Alternatives to Shohei Ohtani
The Yankees and San Diego Padres are involved in talks over a potential deal that would include Juan Soto. Both organizations have progressed to the point where they are mentioning names and could look to make a deal happen at the winter meetings this coming Monday. The potential deal could cost less than the trade that brought Soto to the Padres since Soto is a one-year rental before he enters free agency. The Padres are in debt after the team took out a 50 million dollar loan to pay for the team’s expenses. The Yankees, among other organizations, know this and have no problem waiting until they get a deal in their favor. The Padres may also have to unload multiple bad contracts to fix the organization’s money issues.
This would also push the prospect’s demands to work in the Yankee’s favor. The Yankees would not give up many prospects while also getting one of the best players in baseball. The other considerable target for the Yankees is Yoshinobu Yamamoto. The Yankees are the favorite for the Japanese phenom. Another beneficial rumor about the ace is the Yankees would only have to pay him salary instead of prospects. Yamamoto has been vocal about seeking the largest contract. This means the Yankees could offer a similar deal to the one structured for Bryce Harper. Sign Yamamato with a lengthy contract and a lower AAV to help keep the team payroll down if the Yankees can offer a 375 million dollar deal over 15 years that would equate to 25 million a year for 15 years, which makes sense, as Yamamoto is only 25.
The Yankees need to prioritize the organization first before anything else. Ohtani, on paper, makes sense if he can do what he’s done for the past three seasons. This hope looks to be in doubt as Ohtani is getting older, and he already has a ton of mileage on his arm. If the Yankees pass on Shohei Ohtani in favor of Soto and Yamamoto, that will make complete sense. Both are young and have a track record of excellence and great health. The Yankees are making the right choice in pursuing these two generational talents.
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