MLB Rumors: Shohei Ohtani "Likely To Stay Out West"

It's sure to be the biggest storyline of the 2023 baseball season, and likely beyond: What will happen with Los Angeles Angels' two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani as he approaches free agency after the season? 

The latest report comes from USA Today's Bob Nightengale, who hears that the perennial MVP candidate will likely not venture too far from Los Angeles:

Those close to Shohei Ohtani predict he’ll stay out West when he becomes a free agent simply because of his lifestyle. He rarely ventures out, his friends say, and thoroughly enjoys his privacy. 

"Thoroughly enjoying his privacy" would seem to rule out the New York teams, where the spotlight would be more intense than ever on the once-in-a-lifetime talent. The same could be said about the other big-city Eastern centers. 

But out West? As Nightengale notes, when Ohtani first came to North America in 2017, he narrowed his choice to these finalists: The two Los Angeles teams, the Angels and Dodgers, two other California teams, the San Diego Padres and the San Francisco Giants, plus the Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers and Chicago Cubs.

Only the Cubs were not in a Western Division, and only them and the Rangers were not strictly on the West Coast. 

Will he be traded first, though, at mid-season? We have this from SNY's Andy Martino:

(Angels owner Arte) Moreno’s poor stewardship is so well established that there appears little reason why Ohtani would choose to remain. A person familiar with the Angels organization predicted that the year would now play out this way for Ohtani: The Angels will hold him for a few months to see if they can remain in contention. If they fail to do so, general manager Perry Minasian would have to seek permission from an unpredictable owner to solicit offers for him prior to the trade deadline. If Moreno allows it, the ask will be extremely high.

Again, this will be The Year Of Ohtani around major league baseball (but then again, when isn't it?). 

Photo: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports