LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Angels chose to push their chips in at the 2023 MLB trade deadline, keeping two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani and trading prospects for a slew of big league veterans in an effort to make the playoffs in the crowded AL West.
That decision immediately backfired, as the Angels went completely cold in August and ultimately waived deadline acquisitions Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Randal Grichuk, and Dominic Leone to save money as their playoff hopes disintegrated.
Thing went from bad to worse on Saturday, when the Angels announced Ohtani would miss the remainder of the season with an oblique injury, almost certainly ending his tenure with the Halos as he faces free agency for the first time this offseason.
Ohtani will command a massive contract thanks to his hitting and pitching prowess, as well as his status as one of the most popular athletes on the planet. However, Tommy John surgery will prevent him from taking the mound in 2024, which will alter how teams pursue him on the open market.
While every MLB team should at least explore adding the 29-year-old superstar, below is a list of five ideal landing spots for Ohtani this winter:
1. Los Angeles Dodgers
The nightmare scenario for Angels fans, Ohtani to the Dodgers makes too much sense to not list here. He'd stay very close to home, play for a legitimate World Series contender, and the Dodgers should be able to find the money to pay him what he's worth.
Future Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw may not be around by 2025, and Julio Urias' recent arrest and impending free agency make adding a big arm a priority. Ohtani would immediately step into a DH role in year one and could bolster the rotation in 2025 - making this an easy fit on paper.
2. Seattle Mariners
Ohtani's preference out of Japan was to play for a west coast team, and Seattle was long considered an ideal landing spot. The M's faithful made it clear they'd love to have Shohei in Seattle, with loud chants for him throughout the MLB All-Star Game at T-Mobile Park. Designated Hitter was a gaping hole for the Mariners in 2023, and they have enough pitching depth to potentially go to a six-man rotation when Ohtani is healthy enough to throw again in 2025.
3. San Francisco Giants
The Giants made it clear they were willing to spend big money last offseason, offering over $300 million to each Carlos Correa and Aaron Judge before both deals ultimately failed to materialize.
The Giants still need a star player, still have money to spend short and long term, are located on the west coast, and are a contending squad - making them another NL West team that's a good match for Ohtani on paper.
4. Boston Red Sox
Boston recently fired Chaim Bloom, and whoever takes over will be looking to make a big splash to get this team out of the AL East cellar. If ownership is willing to spend Ohtani would be a massive acquisition, and would team him up with close friend Masataka Yoshia, who is having a great season playing left field for the Sox.
5. New York Mets
The Mets went all-in on 2023 and saw it blow up spectacularly, as they ended up dealing star pitchers Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer at the trade deadline. Owner Steve Cohen is not afraid to keep dishing out cash to hep this team win, but will Ohtani want to relocate across the country, into the New York media frenzy, to play for a team that chronically underperforms? It's a tough sell, but hard to rule out the Mets as long as Cohen is signing the checks.