MLB Free Agency Rumors: Shohei Ohtani Prefers West Coast

The Los Angeles Angels offseason largely centered around owner Arte Moreno deciding against selling the team and the future of Shohei Ohtani, who is on track to become a free agent after the 2023 season.

In some sense, Moreno’s decision to remain owner of the Angels franchise was detrimental to their odds of re-signing Ohtani this winter.

The two-way star has transformed the organization since arriving from Japan in 2017, winning American League MVP four years later and placing second for the award last season.

Ohtani figures to have a slew of suitors if he reaches the open market and could command a contract with a total value north of $500 million.

According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, there’s a belief Ohtani prefers to remain on the West Coast due to a private lifestyle:

Those close to Shohei Ohtani predict he’ll stay out West when he becomes a free agent simply because of his lifestyle. He rarely ventures out, his friends say, and thoroughly enjoys his privacy.

When Ohtani was in the process of choosing his MLB team in 2017, he was said to have narrowed the field to the Los Angeles Dodgers, Angels, Seattle Mariners, San Francisco Giants, Texas Rangers and Chicago Cubs.

If Ohtani indeed prefers to remain on the West Coast, it could bode well for the Dodgers and other clubs. Ohtani’s dodging of free agency questions at the start of Spring Training was not viewed as a positive development for the Angels.

Furthermore, Ohtani has made it clear his top priority is winning a World Series. The Dodgers have established themselves as a perennial contender while the Angels have not reached the postseason in any of Ohtani’s five seasons with the team thus far.

Dodgers focused on Shohei Ohtani

During an offseason that entailed limited, if not cautious, spending, the Dodgers were said to have been making an effort to get under the luxury tax threshold for the 2023 season in order to pursue Ohtani in free agency.

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