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Is Shohei Ohtani working the long angle for a move to the Dodgers?

While the entire baseball world is salivating over the idea of landing the biggest catch in MLB free agency history, one executive says that the Dodgers have the inside track.

May 10, 2023; Anaheim, California, USA; Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani (17) hits a two run home run against the Houston Astros during the ninth inning at Angel Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Gary A. VasquezUSA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

Shohei Ohtani is without doubt the biggest catch in free agency. Not just in baseball, and not just this year. He is a generational talent who will certainly break the half-billion-dollar mark when he hits the market at the end of the season, and that could go quite a bit higher still.

Every team wants him. Every front office is currently looking into what their chances are and exactly how they can restructure their cap space to make room for him. Some teams, like the Yankees or the Mets, would buy him at almost any price, cap space be damned.

While the conventional wisdom is that Shohei would like to stay on the west coast, there are many factors in play. The Padres, Angels, Dodgers, Giants, and Mariners would seem to be the favored teams, then. Realistically, the Mariners and Giants wouldn’t seem to have pockets deep enough to seriously contend for Ohtani’s services. But the Padres and Dodgers could and should make the Angels very nervous indeed.

One MLB executive says that it is all smoke and mirrors, however. Shohei knows already where he wants to be and is working the long angle to get there.

ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel says that one of the executives polled for an article said, “I think he uses the Padres and Mets to run up the price, but he wants to and will go with the Dodgers.”

There is a lot of support for that kind of belief. Firstly, west coast teams are seen as a good fit for Japanese players in general simply for the proximity to Japan. Short flights (relatively speaking) back home and not such a huge time difference make a huge psychological difference.

Secondly, Shohei is already in Los Angeles. True, he may not have a family to uproot, but even on an individual level, it is better to move across town than cross country.

And thirdly there is the Angels’ inability to get to the post season. With Ohtani and Trout, the Angels still struggle. Like any player, Shohei wants to have a chance to make it to the World Series. And those chances are better with the Dodgers than the Angels.

There is a long way to go before any decisions are made and at this point, every team is still in the mix. But if you believe this particular executive, Ohtani may flirt with a lot of teams, but will eventually go to the dance wearing Dodger blue.