Los Angeles Angels superstar Shohei Ohtani is set to hit free agency once the 2023 season comes to an end and should have most of the league calling his representation at least to check in on the price and gauge Shohei's interest. This free agency saga will be unlike anything we've seen in Major League Baseball.
One team that was expected to be a huge threat to steal Ohtani away from the Angels was the San Diego Padres, and for good reason. The Padres are obviously a west coast team that, despite their disappointing year in 2023, did make it to the NLCS in 2022. They haven't been shy at all about spending money and would present a really good opportunity for Ohtani to be comfortable and win while making a lot of money.
Things appear to be changing for San Diego as they reportedly plan to reduce their payroll by a substantial amount heading into the 2024 season. That makes an Ohtani pursuit almost impossible.
Padres reducing their payroll almost automatically removes them from the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes
The Padres reportedly plan on cutting their payroll which sat at just below $249 million on Opening Day to around the $200 million mark. $200 million is obviously still a substantial payroll, but that's a dramatic cut from where they were.
Getting the contracts of Josh Hader and Blake Snell off of their books this offseason would help, but those two combined don't come close to buying one year of Ohtani. Taking that into account plus the fact that the Padres have Xander Bogaerts, Yu Darvish, Joe Musgrove, Manny Machado, Fernando Tatis Jr., Jake Cronenworth, and Robert Suarez all inked on lucrative long-term deals makes fitting another insane contract on their payroll when they're trying to make cuts virtually impossible without a slew of trades that they won't want to make.
This is ultimately good news for Angels fans that want Ohtani to remain in an Angels uniform as one suitor that I felt really had a shot at landing him with how aggressive they've been presumably won't be involved very much at all. The Angels still face an uphill battle, but any suitor that bows out of the race helps.