All eyes are on Shohei Ohtani this offseason. The Los Angeles Angels' superstar just won his second AL MVP award in the last three years and is going to have the opportunity to cash in. It's widely expected that Ohtani is going to get the largest contract in MLB history, but where Ohtani will choose to play out what will likely be at least the next decade remains to be seen.
The Dodgers have been the presumptive favorites for Ohtani's services throughout the entire process, but that doesn't mean Shohei will end up there. In fact, the Angels signed him when they weren't initially seen as the favorite.
Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com came up with eight bold offseason predictions, including a bold destination where he predicts the best player in baseball will sign. Castrovince believes Shohei will remain in the AL West, but not with the Angels or even the Rangers. He believes Ohtani will join the Seattle Mariners.
The Mariners are a frighteningly logical Shohei Ohtani free agency destination
Castrovince outlines several reasons why Shohei would choose the Mariners, and they all have a ton of logic behind them.
"Ohtani barely speaks to the media about non-performance-related issues, but at least he let us in a little bit and said he loves the city of Seattle. Though 2023 was a dud, the Mariners do have a strong nucleus, with an excellent rotation and Julio Rodríguez basically signed to a career-long contract. They are the forever home of Ichiro, Ohtani’s idol. They can offer Ohtani a place to be his unique and relatively reclusive self away from major media demands."- Anthony Castrovince - MLB.com
Ohtani's disinterest in speaking with the media has been relatively well-documented. He rarely speaks unless he absolutely has to. He talks after he pitches, and on occasion after a big offensive game. If he were to go to a big media market like New York or Boston, he'd presumably have to be a lot more willing to talk to the media. If he stayed with the Angels or joined a team like Seattle he'd get some big market benefits while still getting to shy away from the media. That likely won't be the ultimate deciding factor, but it could play a role.
Castrovince then points out the Mariners roster having a strong nucleus and he's spot on. The Mariners boast one of the best rotations in the American League and have several young arms that will be there for a long time. Pitchers like Luis Castillo, Logan Gilbert, and George Kirby are already stars while younger arms Bryan Woo and Bryce Miller could be on star trajectories. Seattle's offense has more question marks around it, but Julio Rodriguez is one of the best players in baseball at just 22 years old and is under team control through the 2034 season. An Ohtani-Rodriguez one-two punch would be virtually impossible to pitch to.
Seattle did miss the playoffs in disappointing fashion this past season, but still won 88 games. They had won 90 in each of the two years prior. Seattle winning sustainably in recent years should have some appeal to Ohtani who desperately wants to win.
Ohtani's idolization of Mariners legend Ichiro Suzuki could be the icing on the cake. Ichiro could very easily play a big role in recruiting Ohtani and getting him to ultimately sign on the dotted line.
Ohtani joining the Mariners would, of course, be devastating for the Angels who are competing with Seattle in an already difficult AL West. Having to face Ohtani 13 times each year will only make their lives much tougher.
The Dodgers might be the favorites, but if Seattle can compete financially they have a lot to offer in free agency. That is frightening for the Angels.