If I’m using logic and trust the rumors about who is out, my thinking is you have to eliminate all the East teams in both leagues… In the NL East, the culture/losing (Marlins & Nationals), positional need/luxury tax (Phillies), cost/luxury tax (Braves), the Mets (said they’re out). In the AL East, the Rays and Orioles (cost/needs), Blue Jays (are trying to trade stars), the Yankees and the Red Sox (said they’re out). Realistically, you have to be a homer on the east coast to think there’s a chance in H-E-Double Hockey Sticks he’s adding 10+ hours on his commute home to Japan for the next decade.
The Central teams all tend to be smaller cities with smaller payrolls (Guardians, Twins, Royals, Pirates, Reds), rebuilding/lack a core (Tigers, White Sox, Cubs, Brewers), or have too many big contracts/stars for their size (Cardinals).
That leaves the West teams, which is what makes the most sense. There are teams who are out due to culture/losing (Angels, Rockies, Athletics), there is the teams that have a DH (Astros), teams that can’t afford the contract (D-backs & Athletics-so pathetic I listed the A’s twice), teams that are said to be out (Rangers, Giants), trying to reduce payroll (Padres), which leaves two teams…
The Dodgers and the Mariners…. I know there was a report that was published about the Mariners being out on Ohtani, but I don’t believe that and here’s why…. The guy said industry sources… Knowing that you can’t talk about Ohtani or risk the negotiations, I highly doubt the beat writer (a newer one at that) got behind closed doors. What supports this theory that they’re still in on Ohtani. Normally Dipoto is so vocal about his moves he has a weekly show where he candidly talks about his process, but he’s been unusually tight-lipped about everything this offseason. He loves Ohtani and was willing to do anything to get him 6 years ago, same player, more proven, same GM, still in love with the player, and they’ve been slashing payroll for years.
Most recently a USA Today report came out that Yamamoto has two requirements for the team he signs with this offseason. The first is they have to be ready to contend immediately and they have to have a Japanese player on the team. Considering the Mariners have been considered to be highly involved in these negotiations, it begs the question, who would that Japanese player be on the roster?! The answer is, we don’t have one, unless we sign one in free agency.
I know people are going to say there’s no way Shohei goes to Seattle, but if we believe it’s true that the Mariners are out on Ohtani, then why is it taking so long for the Dodgers to strike a deal with literally no other legitimate suitors? Early in the offseason, it was reported they were interested in re-uniting with Martinez, as they felt Ohtani was a luxury. I’m also not sure they want all of their best players under long-term deals to be on the wrong side of 30 especially when they’re already one of the oldest rosters in the league (Betts, Freeman, C W. Smith, Muncy, Heyward, etc.)
The reasons for the Mariners to sign Ohtani is he raises the floor of the team, he fills a huge hole after they let a productive, albeit inconsistent option walk over pennies (Mike Ford wasn’t tendered over $1.4M), they’re bargain bin shopping to fill the other holes, like they are saving money for something big, the translator who is friends with Ohtani is a M’s fan, Shohei does work at Driveline in Seattle, which would be convenient, he loves the city, the fans, and he got a special ovation at the All-Star game, the city offers anonymity that Los Angeles doesn’t, and most importantly, they can trade from their rotation knowing that they only have to patch a spot for 3-4 months until Ray is healthy, then they can add Ohtani into the 2025 rotation alongside Yamamoto, where both players would be better rested and are used to pitching once a week.
If anyone other than Seattle or Los Angeles signs Ohtani it would be a miracle at this point, and I think there’s mutual interest between Seattle and Shohei, where he gets to trying pairing himself with the new Mike Trout (Julio), while actually having a solid pitching staff, a young core, and impact prospects on the way. While people may think it’s ridiculous to think the Mariners could sign Ohtani AND Yamamoto, I could see them doing two 10-year deals with Shohei getting $400M ($40M/year) and Yoshi getting $200M ($20M/year). That’s $60M for a team with a payroll around $125M and who supposedly profited over $80+ million last year, not including their TV station revenue and they dumped some other contracts, while this allows them to trade for controllable bats.