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Otani's 'next destination' is neither the Yankees nor the Dodger

Toronto has emerged as the next destination for major league free agent Shohei Ohtani.

On the 7th (Korean time), the New York Post, a local U.S. media outlet, said, "It is not known which team Ohtani prefers. However, according to clubhouse sources, it appears that Ohtani will not play in New York." “That’s what I said when I entered the league,” he explained. He added, “If Ohtani transfers, the team will be the Dodgers or Toronto.”

Previously, the Dodgers emerged as a likely destination for Ohtani. On the 3rd, ESPN reporter Jeff Passan reported, "The LA Dodgers, Toronto Blue Jays, Chicago Cubs and LA Angels are still negotiating over Ohtani as a member of the 'Final Four'." “On the other hand, the Texas Rangers, New York Mets, and Boston Red Sox announced their withdrawal from the race to recruit Ohtani and turned their attention to other players.”

He added, "Among them, the Dodgers are on the leading edge. Ohtani could sign a contract worth $600 million (about 780 billion won), exceeding the expected $520 million (about 620 billion won)." Sportsnet, a local Canadian media outlet, also mentioned on the same day, "The Dodgers are the most likely next destination for Ohtani."

However, one variable occurred recently. At the Winter Meeting, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts revealed that he met Ohtani. Normally, contact with a player is not announced during the winter meeting period. This corresponds to ‘maintaining secrecy’ between the player and the club. At the time, Coach Roberts said, "Ohtani is the first player we want to recruit," and added, "We met with Ohtani at Dodger Stadium a few days ago and talked for 2-3 hours. The conversation went smoothly and the atmosphere was very good."

In response, Agent Ohtani immediately conveyed his intention to protest to the Dodgers. According to Sports Illustrated, Dodgers general manager Brandon Gomes also reportedly reacted with embarrassment to Manager Roberts' unexpected behavior.

Meanwhile, there is talk that Ohtani has turned his back on the Dodgers, who broke their promise. At the same time, Toronto emerged as a new team likely to recruit Ohtani. MLB.com also said, "Toronto and the Dodgers are the two teams most in line to recruit Ohtani. However, Coach Roberts' unexpected actions are expected to have an impact on Ohtani's decision."

There is also an assessment by local media that Toronto is suitable as Ohtani's new club. First, MLB.com said, “The size of the contract is large, but the baseball stadium environment will be an important factor in the contract for Ohtani.” Whether it is the KBO League, Japan's NPB, or the American MLB, each baseball stadium has a pitcher-friendly stadium and a batter-friendly stadium. Among these, local experts analyzed that Otani would sign with a team whose home stadium is a hitter-friendly stadium.

ESPN said, “According to a source close to Ohtani, a pitcher-friendly stadium like San Francisco is a team that is unlikely to sign with Ohtani.” In addition, MLB Network's John Heyman also said through the New York Post, "The Giants' home stadium, Oracle Park, is a stadium that could hinder Ohtani's career."

ESPN then said, "Ohtani recorded a career OPS (on-base percentage + slugging percentage) of 1.139 at Rogers Center, Toronto's home stadium," and when looking at the stadium factors, it was predicted that Toronto would emerge as an emerging powerhouse in recruiting Ohtani.

Ohtani posted career-high scores this season. Ahead of free agency, the so-called ‘FA Lloyd’ was properly launched. As a pitcher, Ohtani had 23 games, 132 innings, 10 wins, 5 losses, and an ERA of 3.14, and as a hitter, he posted good results with 151 hits in 497 at-bats in 135 games, a batting average of 0.304, 44 home runs, and 95 RBIs, and an OPS of 1.066.

In particular, Ohtani is the only player in the major leagues to record 10 wins and 10 home runs for two consecutive years, and 10 wins and 40 home runs in a single season. Ohtani ranked first in the major leagues with 10.0 in Baseball Reference's bWAR, which is the contribution to victory, and 9.0 in FanGraphs' fWAR.

Additionally, Ohtani won the American League Rookie of the Year Award in 2018 and the American League MVP Award this season in 2021. All-Star, who proves to be the best player, has appeared as many as three times (2021-2023) and has also won Silver Slugger twice (2021, 2023), standing tall as the number one baseball player who rewrites Major League history every year.

In particular, Ohtani's MVP this season was unanimous MVP. In particular, Ohtani was the first player in major league history to win the MVP award unanimously twice.

With Ohtani's contract size approaching $600 million, Toronto has reached an advantageous peak in the recruitment process. What will be the final destination of ‘Dual Blades’? MLB Network reporter John Moroshi predicted, “Shohei Ohtani will decide on his free agent path before this weekend.”

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Sunday, December 10, 2023
 
 
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