Red Sox' Shohei Ohtani Pursuit Takes Massive Turn

Apr 17, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA;  Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani (17)
Apr 17, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani (17) / Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

103 years ago, the Boston Red Sox dealt Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees. Now, they are reportedly missing out on the modern-day Babe Ruth as well.

As two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani nears making his decision, the Red Sox have reportedly backed off from courting the two-time MVP to pursue other free agent targets.

"The Texas Rangers, Boston Red Sox and New York Mets, who were among the initial group of suitors, have turned their attention to other players, sources said."

ESPN's Jeff Passan

In September, there had been a glimmer of hope for Red Sox fans as Peter Gammons reported that a National League executive believed that Ohtani had interest in joining the Red Sox. According to the report, New Balance CEO Jim Davis could have been part of the draw for Ohtani to sign with the club in free agency. Ohtani signed a $5 million deal with New Balance in January, and the organization is based in Boston.

The greatest player in baseball signing with Boston simply because of New Balance was always a pipe dream, but Gammons' report did give Red Sox nation some reason for optimism (imagine how many New Balance shoes would've been in the stands at Fenway Park).

Per Passan's report, the Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, Toronto Blue Jays, and Los Angeles Angels all remain in the running. Ohtani will likely receive the largest free-agent contract in North American sports history.

Since signing with the Los Angeles Angels in December 2017, Ohtani has taken the sport by storm. The Japanese sensation has captivated fans with his mammoth home runs and dominance on the mound. He took home his second MVP Award in November, becoming the first player in MLB history to win two MVP Awards unanimously.

His 2023 campaign was unprecedented (except maybe by his own in 2021). Ohtani hit .304 with 44 home runs, and drove in 95 runs in only 135 games. On the mound, he held opponents to a 3.14 ERA and punched out 11.4 batters per nine innings

After undergoing elbow surgery in September, Ohtani will be unable to pitch until 2025, but his bat will still be a massive pickup for whichever lineup acquires his services.

If Not Ohtani, Then Who?

Passan does continue on to say that the Red Sox are among the favorites for a different Japanese superstar, Yoshinobu Yamamoto. The 25-year-old right-hander will take his talents stateside after three straight MVP awards and three straight Sawamura Awards (equivalent of the Cy Young Award) in Japan.

Sources say that the floor for Yamamoto's contract is $200 million, plus whichever MLB team signs him will have to pay the Orix Buffaloes, his NPB team, a $39.38 million posting fee. The expectation is that he will wait until after the Winter Meetings (Dec 3-6) to meet with teams and make his decision.

Southpaw Jordan Montgomery, who is spending his offseason in Boston, was also identified by Passan as a potential "strike-first" option for the Red Sox if they are "feeling squishy about Yamamoto."

The consensus is that top of the line pitching is priority number one on the Red Sox' offseason to-do list. Don't be surprised if Yamamoto and Montgomery are the "other players" that Boston has honed in on.

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