Report: MLB exec believes Red Sox ‘are a real threat’ to sign Shohei Ohtani

Red Sox

“Shohei Ohtani and the Red Sox are starting to be linked more and more.”

Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Angels smiles in the dugout before their game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on April 16, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts.
Shohei Ohtani is set to land a massive contract in free agency this winter. Winslow Townson / Getty Images)

If the Red Sox want to try and lessen the sting of the team’s third last-place finish in the previous four years, they’re going to have to make a splash or two during the offseason.

And few players available this offseason will capture as many headlines as two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani.

Even though the 29-year-old Angels pitcher/DH is not expected to take the mound in 2024 while recovering from elbow surgery, Ohtani is expected to be able to hit without any restrictions next season — and return to pitching in 2025 and beyond after his torn UCL is fully healed.

Amid concerns over his long-term viability as a top-of-the-rotation pitcher, Ohtani is still expected to command a hefty contract as a free agent this winter, especially after leading MLB with 44 home runs in 135 games.

And according to MLB insider Jon Heyman, the Red Sox might be the team willing to sign off on that megadeal in order to bring him to Boston.

“Shohei Ohtani and the Red Sox are starting to be linked more and more,” Heyman wrote on Thursday in the New York Post. “One executive with an interested team said he believes they are a real threat. Ohtani has a new big deal with New Balance out of Boston. Perhaps more important: The Red Sox need to balance things out after three last-place finishes in four years.

“If the Red Sox do land Ohtani, maybe their faithful forget Mookie Betts. For a little while, anyway.”

Heyman added that the Cubs, Angels, and Dodgers will also be in the mix for Ohtani’s services. According to the longtime baseball scribe, “word is Ohtani doesn’t love pitching in Yankee Stadium (27.00 ERA in 3 2/3 innings).”

Heyman also included in his MLB notebook that Phillies GM and New Hampshire native Sam Fuld is “among the logical candidates” for the open executive job at the top of the Red Sox’ baseball operations department, which has been vacant since the team fired Chaim Bloom last month.

Heyman and that MLB executive’s musings over the Red Sox’ interest in Ohtani stands as the latest in a growing list of reports linking Boston to the pending free agent, who should take home his second MVP award in 2023 after posting a 10.0 WAR with the Angels.

Last month, Peter Gammons noted on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, that an “N.L. Executive long familiar with Shonei Ohtani believes he is interested in Boston, partly because of his relationship with New Balance CEO Jim Davis.”

There’s no question that Boston bringing in arguably the most talented player in baseball this winter would create a buzz and put fans in the seats come April.

But there’s still plenty of risk in handing a player like Ohtani a potential record-setting deal, at least if he can’t regain his form as a power arm in the years ahead.

Ohtani’s presence would clearly be welcomed in the lineup, but it would also prompt Boston to keep Masataka Yoshida out in the left field — where he provided little value in 2023.

The case could be made that Boston would be better served utilizing that money on hand and signing one or two pitchers like Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Jordan Montgomery, Blake Snell, and Aaron Nola.

But if a generational talent like Ohtani (and that might be putting it lightly) is up for grabs this offseason, the prospect of bringing that star power to Boston might be too tempting to pass up.

“We’re not gonna get into specific player moves or anything that could get us in trouble,” Red Sox team president Sam Kennedy said of the prospect of signing Ohtani on Monday. “But I’ll tell you, there’s an amazing group of men, women, individuals in our baseball operations department that are throwing every idea out there that you could possibly imagine, turning over every rock. That’s when the Red Sox have been at their best, is sort of the “no bad ideas” zone that we operate in. So we’ll consider anything and everything to improve for the short term and for the long term.

“I want to make that clear. There’s a desire to compete. You’ve heard us say it and sometimes those words ring hollow when you’ve had two very disappointing seasons. But there’s just nothing like winning in Boston. And we need to get that back. We want to get back.”