The Shohei Sweepstakes: The Enigmatic Star's Impact on Baseball's Offseason

The Shohei Sweepstakes™ head this week to Music City, where the decision — or indecision — of the sport’s preeminent but enigmatic star on his free-agent destination will define the gathering of the baseball world in Nashville and the rest of its offseason. In this article, we delve into the impact of Shohei Ohtani's decision, the teams still in the running, and the allure of the San Francisco Giants as a potential destination.

The Contenders: Teams in the Running

Explore the teams vying for Shohei Ohtani's signature and their chances of landing the enigmatic star.

The Shohei Sweepstakes: The Enigmatic Star's Impact on Baseball's Offseason - 663800167

The San Francisco Giants, finalists for him the first time around and desperately seeking a star, identified Ohtani as a priority this offseason. But as for their chances as the bidding possibly comes to a head this week?

With MLB’s Winter Meetings set to begin Monday, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported that some initial suitors — the Rangers, Mets and Red Sox — had shifted their focus elsewhere. He identified the Dodgers, Blue Jays, Cubs and the incumbent Angels as teams confirmed to still be alive. The Giants? They “have long had a fondness for Ohtani, though where they stand in these sweepstakes is unknown.”

Whether by design, or simply the result of a generally airtight front office, the Giants are seemingly accommodating one of Ohtani’s wishes. Earlier this offseason, Passan reported Ohtani’s camp, led by agent Nez Balelo, would hold it against teams if word of their meetings got out.

The Giants’ interest, though, is more of an open secret.

The Giants' Desperation for a Star

Discover why the San Francisco Giants are eager to secure Shohei Ohtani and the impact he could have on their lineup and rotation.

Farhan Zaidi possibly faces more pressure than any other executive to land the big one, after being spurned in winters past by Aaron Judge and Bryce Harper.

Not only does Zaidi have the financial capital to match any offer, he also has the desire and arguably a stronger need than any other suitor for the services of the 29-year-old two-time MVP, even if he’s ruled out from pitching until 2025 after elbow surgery.

On the field, few hitters would do more to bolster a mix-and-match lineup that lacks the reliable punch that a slugger of Ohtani’s caliber provides. And, presuming a full recovery, the six-pitch right-hander would give Logan Webb the partner atop the rotation the Giants have long desired.

With 46 and 44 home runs in two of the past three seasons, Ohtani would attack McCovey Cove with a ferocity not seen since Barry Bonds. And yet, it may have been his 34-homer, second-place MVP season in between that was an even more impressive showcase of his abilities, finishing fourth in Cy Young voting while posting a 2.33 ERA over 28 starts, striking out 11.9 per nine innings, the highest rate in the majors.

The Allure of the Giants: A Savior on the West Coast

Explore the reasons why the San Francisco Giants offer Shohei Ohtani a unique opportunity to become a savior while staying on the West Coast.

While he may command record-setting money, ESPN estimated that the revenue he generates from marketing, sponsorship, and advertising deals to be in the “low tens of millions,” on top of any boost a sensation of his level may provide at the gate, something the once star-driven franchise has lacked since at least Buster Posey, if not Bonds.

The Giants aren’t blind to the attendance bump that most of the league got last season but didn’t make its way to China Basin. They drew barely 2.5 million fans, 17th out of the 30 teams and down 24% from 2017, the year their National League-record 530-game sellout streak ended. More importantly, it was up only a rounding error, 0.7%, from last year, while the league as a whole experienced almost a 10% increase.

For all the reasons that Ohtani makes sense is why he has all the leverage. And very little is publicly known about his desires and intentions.

Ohtani hasn’t spoken to the press in four months, not since before the procedure on his elbow — the exact details of which are also a mystery — that ended his season. His scheduled availability following the announcement of his unanimous MVP award was canceled due to “technical difficulties.” While accepting various awards via videoconference on MLB Network, we’ve learned baseball’s most eligible bachelor is an owner of at least two pets, a dog and a cat.

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