Where the Giants are in the Shohei Ohtani draw, according to MLB executives

Where MLB executives are currently assessing the Giants’ chances of landing, Ohtani originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

The long-term future of Los Angeles Angels superstar Shohei Ohtani won’t be decided until at least November. Until pen meets paper, this is going to be one of baseball’s most intriguing storylines.

Could Ohtani — one of the biggest names to enter MLB free agency in sports history — join the Giants next offseason?

ESPN’s Buster Olney recently spoke with MLB executives and evaluators to gauge where the league’s chatter is about Ohtani’s future heading into the summer months. He ranked the Los Angeles Dodgers as the clear favorite to land Ohtani, followed by “three other favorites” in the San Diego Padres, New York Mets and New York Yankees.

The Giants were featured in the next tier, titled “others in the mix” along with the Seattle Mariners and Chicago Cubs.

“San Francisco should probably do what they didn’t do with [Aaron] Judge – go far beyond competing offerings, despite extraordinary payroll flexibility,” Olney wrote.

The Giants missed out on Judge last winter, finishing second to the Yankees after the slugger signed a nine-year contract worth $360 million to stay in New York. Then they walked away from an agreed-upon 13-year, $350 million contract with shortstop Carlos Correa due to long-term concerns over his right ankle.

They will head into another offseason in search of signing a top free agent to follow the Dodgers and Padres, their star rivals in NL West.

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Ohtani, whose current .857 OPS at the plate pairs with an AL-leading 90 strikeouts on the mound, will likely demand record money. There has never been a free agent like him.

“He’s able to tell teams that if they’re not prepared to make a huge offer — say, $500 million — then there’s no visitation,” an evaluator told Olney. “All [Ohtani] really needs two large market teams, but it can have up to eight to 10 teams, and [agent] nose [Balelo] can look for a way to separate the serious teams from the others.”

Giants fans may not appreciate reading that the Dodgers are currently considered the favorites to land Ohtani, but the Japanese superstar’s future remains a big mystery.

“Anyone who tells you they know what’s going to happen,” an evaluator told Olney, “is completely full of shit.”

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