Shohei Ohtani Rumors: ‘Best Fit’ Being Prioritized Over Contract

Shohei Ohtani continues to be the center of attention in MLB free agency as he potentially inches closer to choosing his next team.

The two-way star has kept the process private so far, but a report indicated he could sign before the Winter Meetings begin in early December.

There is a belief that Ohtani prefers to stay on the West Coast and play for a team with World Series aspirations, but nothing is concrete as to what he’s looking for. The Los Angeles Dodgers are considered the favorites to sign him as they check both boxes and have the financial means to give him a record-breaking contract.

While the Dodgers do have the necessary resources to land Ohtani, that may ultimately not matter much in his decision. According to Zack Meisel and Andy McCullough of The Athletic, executives believe Ohtani is focused on finding the best fit more so than maximizing his earnings:

“From everything I’ve heard, he isn’t driven by cash,” another NL executive said. “He turned down a lot of money [in Japan] to come here in the first place. So it’ll just be about where he feels is the best fit.”

When Ohtani left Nippon Professional Baseball in 2017, he passed on the opportunity to sign a lucrative contract with the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters in favor of making the jump to MLB.

Ohtani ultimately joined the Los Angeles Angels and received a modest $2.315 million signing bonus while being limited to a rookie scale contract due to international signing rules.

The 29-year-old earned a $30 million salary in his final year of team control this past season, which set a new record for arbitration-eligible players.

However, in addition to his base salary, Ohtani has earned far more due to advertising deals, endorsements and marketing. According to Forbes, Ohtani made $20 million in 2022, and in 2023 that number jumped to $40 million, according to Axios, far more than the next closest MLB player, Bryce Harper, who earned $7 million.

Shohei Ohtani wants free agency meetings to be kept private

To this point in the offseason, there have been no reports suggesting Ohtani has visited specific teams. His plans largely remain a mystery, and it is because he reportedly requested that clubs keep his free agency meetings under wraps.

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