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Ohtani/Yamamoto: Where Will They Land?

A detailed prediction of where the Japanese stars will most likely sign this offseason.

Now that the MLB season came to a close just about two weeks ago, we have arrived at a particularly highly anticipated offseason. As some players head into free agency, teams have already begun to make changes to their roster, both in terms of players and managerial staff.

Out of all the notable new free agents, the most versatile and popular out of them all is none other than noted unicorn Shohei Ohtani, formerly of MLB’s Los Angeles Angels. Ohtani, who’s expected to break records with the contract he will eventually sign as an elite pitcher and great hitter that requires only one roster spot, has publicly set his sights on a team that can make a World Series run.

However, Ohtani is not the only Japanese star looking to sign with a team that can make an impact on the league next season. Yoshinobu Yamamoto of NPB’s Orix Buffaloes has recently and publicly announced that he plans to travel overseas and play Major League Baseball. With so many teams in desperate need of a dominant player to turn things around for their club and help take them to the World Series, it is tough to predict which team really wants either of these guys the most. However, it is very likely that the teams below are going to pursue these superstars in order to fill in the missing piece to their puzzle.


Los Angeles Dodgers

Even after three consecutive seasons with 100 or more wins in the regular season, the Dodgers still continue to fall short of making it to the World Series (2020 doesn’t count) with their season ended this past year by the 84-win Arizona Diamondbacks, in sweeping fashion. Given an already stacked roster with talented stars such as Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman, and a rising star in NL Rookie of the Year finalist James Outman, adding one of the greatest players of all time in Shohei Ohtani would without a doubt increase their chances of making a run for the ages.


San Francisco Giants

After blowing their opportunities on signing Carlos Correa and Aaron Judge [Ed. Note—We think you’ll find it was Arson Judge.] last offseason, the Giants are looking for a hero to send their club back to the playoffs, and Ohtani is just the player they are looking for. It is debatable whether the organization would choose to pursue Ohtani when so many existing contenders are trying to do the same, but they do by all means have the pockets to do it. After a 2023 season that could be summed up as “average,” the Giants are looking to add pieces to their roster that can inject some electricity to their playstyle. With an addition like Ohtani, the Giants could be one step closer to becoming the dominant team that they were just two years ago.


New York Mets

Steve Cohen and his (money-laundering) Mets organization have proven to be on the spendier side when it comes to shopping for players in the offseason these past few years. Almost everyone in the baseball world had high expectations for this Mets team before the 2023 season started, with what arguably looked like the best starting rotation in baseball (Scherzer! Verlander! Senga!), but it wasn’t before long that they folded like an omelet and shelled out an embarrassing season of baseball. After selling hard at the 2023 trade deadline, it looked like this Mets team was ready to rebuild. However, it is the Mets after all, and I can’t say I would be surprised if I open Instagram in the next couple of months and see a post from ESPN that reads “Traded” with a photoshopped picture of Ohtani in a Mets uniform.




New York Yankees

The dynamic (or delusional) duo of Hal Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman have stated in a recent interview that this will be an “active” offseason, and Yankees fans can only hope that the organization will actually pursue a player that can make an impact on the team—rather than pursuing a relief pitcher at the trade deadline when they have the best reliever ERA in baseball. Looking to recreate Masahiro Tanaka, the Yankees are the frontrunner in the Yamamoto discussion. Yankees ace and Cy Young Award winner Gerrit Cole was the only impactful player in the starting rotation this past year due to way too many injuries to Carlos Rodón, Nestor Cortés Jr., and Frankie Montas, and as a result, the most popular team in baseball missed the playoffs, despite being in a division that included three postseason teams. As the pressure continues to build on Cashman, with talks around trading for Juan Soto and signing Cody Bellinger, it will be interesting to see if and how he plays his cards this offseason.


New York Mets

After losing both Verlander and Scherzer back at the beginning of August, the Mets are looking for a starting pitcher to pair with Kodai Senga for the 2024 season. The former NPB star for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks pitched a 2.98 ERA this past season for the Mets, so they may well look to recreate their recent overseas signing success with Yamamoto this upcoming season. Yamamoto himself has stated that he “covets the opportunity to play in a large market,” and with an owner of a big market team such as the Mets (or Yankees) willing to shell out money to spend on valuable players, it is very likely that Yamamoto will end up in New York one way or another.


Chicago Cubs

Just like the Yankees and Mets, the Cubs are generally considered a big-market team. Also similar to the Mets, the Cubs have had recent success with overseas signing with players such as Seiya Suzuki, who, despite making a season-ending error, had a solid 2023 season and an outstanding month of September (.370 AVG, 7 HR, 26 RBI, 196 wRC+). After a Cy-Young-worthy year from Cubs ace Justin Steele, adding another weapon such as Yamamoto to go into the rotation would be essential to having a shot at a playoff run next year, especially now that starters Marcus Stroman and Kyle Hendricks just hit free agency.

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