Why ESPN listed the Red Sox as one of the 10 early candidates to sign Shohei Ohtani this offseason.

Red Sox

“Ohtani, people around him say, has long been intrigued by Boston.”

Shohei Ohtani is the top prize in MLB free agency this offseason. AP Photo/Ashley Landis

As the MLB offseason is officially underway, all eyes in the baseball world are turning to Shohei Ohtani and where he could go next.

It appears that place could be Boston. The Red Sox were listed as one of the 10 teams on ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez’s list of likely destinations for Ohtani, noting that the two-way superstar might have legitimate interest in Boston.

“Ohtani, people around him say, has long been intrigued by Boston,” Gonzalez wrote. “The fact that New Balance, which signed him to a massive endorsement deal, is based there might help.”

While the Red Sox could have an inherent advantage to land Ohtani because of New Balance, there’ll obviously be many other factors in where he’ll pick to play next. Whoever signs Ohtani will likely have to sign him to a historical contract. Gonzalez noted that Ohtani could possibly receive up to $720 million on his next contract, which is double the value of the nine-year, $360 million deal Aaron Judge received last offseason.

Whether Ohtani goes to the highest bidder or not remains to be seen. But Gonzalez, among many other baseball insiders, seems to think that he could earn the first $500 million contract ever for an athlete in North American sports history.

Gonzalez wondered if the Red Sox would be willing to go to the monetary lengths that will likely be necessary to sign Ohtani.

“But the biggest factor for the Red Sox might be three last-place finishes over the past four years, and a distaste by their passionate fan base in the wake of [Mookie] Betts’ departure,” Gonzalez wrote. “Signing Ohtani could repair a lot of that ill will. The question is: Will the Red Sox act like a true big-market team and actually spend this winter?”

The Red Sox have some money to spend entering the 2024 offseason, sitting roughly $37 million below the luxury tax line, via Red Sox Payroll on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. Signing Ohtani would likely take the Red Sox close to or above the line, depending on what other moves they make this offseason. The Athletic’s Tim Britton, for instance, projects Ohtani to sign a 12-year, $520 million contract in free agency, which is worth $43.3 million per year.

New Red Sox chief baseball officer Craig Breslow indicated at his introductory press conference on Thursday that not having enough money to spend won’t be an issue.

“I don’t see financial resources as a limiting factor,” Breslow said.

However, another MLB insider doesn’t seem to be high on the Red Sox’ chances to land Ohtani.

“The Dodgers, I believe, are still the favorites for Ohtani,” Fox Sports and The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal said on “Foul Territory.” “Beyond that, I actually think [the Dodgers] need Ohtani.”

Gonzalez seemed to agree with that sentiment, writing that the Dodgers “have long been considered the favorites” for Ohtani. “Before October, Dodgers ownership, sources said, was highly motivated to land Ohtani.”