Injuries on the eve of free agency. It’s a powerful issue that will shake up the free agency market this winter.
Major League Baseball’s “superstar” Shohei Ohtani, 29, of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, is human after all. He was on a roll when he was injured.
Otani started the first game of the 2023 Major League Baseball doubleheader against the Cincinnati Reds at Angels Stadium in Anaheim, California, USA,온라인바카라 on April 24. He also batted second in the order. In short, it was an “Idoryu” appearance.
It was Ohtani. In the top of the first inning as the starter, Ohtani got out of the inning with two strikeouts, including a swinging strikeout of Eli Dela Cruz, but in the bottom of the first inning, with the bases loaded and one out, Ohtani showed off his baseball prowess by hitting a 93 mph (150 km/h) four-seam fastball from Cincinnati starter Andrew Abbott for a two-run home run to the right-center field wall. It was Ohtani’s 44th home run of the season. He now has the most home runs in all of Major League Baseball.
However, in the top of the second inning, while facing Christian Encarnacion-Strand with runners on first and second, Ohtani signed to the bench. He sensed something was wrong with his body. Angels head coach Phil Nevin and Angels head trainer Mike Frostad came out to the mound to check on Ohtani, who eventually left the mound and made his way to the dugout. The Angels immediately replaced him with Tyler Anderson.
Ohtani was converted to a designated hitter, but with two outs in the bottom of the third, the Angels brought in Nolan Chanuel to pinch-hit. “Ohtani was removed due to arm fatigue,” the Angels said in a statement.
Ohtani’s injury was quite serious. Upon further examination, it was determined that he had damaged ligaments in his right elbow, and he will not pitch for the remainder of the season. “Ohtani has been diagnosed with right elbow ligament damage and will not pitch for the remainder of the season,” Angels general manager Perry Minasian said.
Ohtani had already been removed from a start against the Seattle Mariners on April 4 after just four innings due to finger cramps. In a sign that his body was starting to break down, the Angels gave him a two-week pinch-hitting stint after he pitched against the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday, to no avail, given the accumulated fatigue.
He could end up on the operating table. Minasian said, “There’s no word yet on whether he’ll have surgery,” but the fire remains.
The “idoryu” is what Ohtani is all about. As a pitcher, Ohtani was a top-notch starter this year, going 10-5 with a 3.14 ERA in 23 starts and 132 innings pitched, and as a hitter, he was one of the league’s best sluggers, batting .304 with a .405 on-base percentage, .664 slugging percentage, and 1.069 OPS in 125 games with 44 home runs, 91 RBIs, and 17 doubles. In 2021, he won the American League MVP award because he was a huge sensation, hitting 47 home runs as a hitter and winning nine games as a pitcher.
So much so that local media speculated that a “$600 million contract is possible” for Ohtani ahead of his free agency. The largest contract in Major League Baseball is the 12-year, $426.5 million deal that Ohtani’s teammate Mike Trout signed with the Angels. The general consensus was that if Ohtani could do “Idoru,” he could easily surpass Trout’s contract.
However, with Ohtani facing the reef of injuries, his free agent price tag is in flux. If he undergoes elbow surgery and is unable to pitch for a while, his price tag is bound to drop.
American media outlets are also bouncing around. “Gerrit Cole signed a nine-year, $324 million contract with the New York Yankees ahead of his age-29 season,” said CBS Sports on May 25. Aaron Judge signed a nine-year, $360 million (approximately 47.7 billion won) contract with the Yankees ahead of his 31st season.” “Ohtani will surpass both players’ contracts.”
The outlet said that even if Ohtani is unable to pitch in the future, he will at least be treated as a jersey equivalent. “Based on Ohtani’s offensive numbers alone, he deserves to be treated similarly to Judge,” CBS Sports said. Judge set the American League single-season record for home runs with 62 last year.
Earlier in the day, Major League Baseball’s official website (MLB.com) predicted that Ohtani’s lowered price tag would only increase the competition to land him.
“Ohtani will continue to play as a designated hitter for the remainder of the season,” MLB.com wrote. The Tommy John surgery shouldn’t affect his swing.” If Ohtani does go under the knife, it shouldn’t prevent him from continuing to hit.
In fact, it’s not unreasonable to expect that the Philadelphia Phillies’ slugger Bryce Harper, who returned from elbow surgery last year, hit .349 with six home runs and 13 RBIs in the postseason, and Ohtani returned to the lineup as the No. 2 designated hitter in Game 2 of the doubleheader against Cincinnati on April 24.
According to MLB.com, “Most fans believe the Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets, Yankees, San Francisco and Angels are the favorites to sign Ohtani. The number of teams that could sign the two-hitter to an astronomical contract was essentially limited.” “Not every team can afford to pay $500 million over 10 years. But if it’s in the $250 million to $300 million range, you’re going to have a lot of teams looking at it, even if he’s not pitching.”
There’s even a chance that Ohtani could stay with the Angels. “Even if Ohtani does have surgery, he’ll want to continue pitching at some point, and Anaheim is a stable, familiar and predictable place for him to rehab from surgery,” MLB.com wrote, noting that the Angels are not out of the question.
CBS Sports, meanwhile, believes that only 11 teams will be able to sign Ohtani. While the “Dodgers are the favorites,” CBS Sports predicted that one of the Yankees, Mets, Chicago Cubs, San Francisco, Seattle, San Diego Padres, Toronto Blue Jays, Boston Red Sox, Philadelphia, or Angels could land Ohtani. “One of these 11 teams will sign him,” the outlet predicted. I wonder if any of them will do it.
How Ohtani’s injury will change his future is a fascinating story. Even if he does undergo surgery, it’s interesting to see if he’ll get the same treatment as a jersey as the best hitter in the league. And with the possibility of his price tag dropping, it will be interesting to see if other teams have a chance to sign him instead of just a few rich clubs.