HomeOther Philly SportsBraves continue pursuit of Shohei Ohtani, reports say – Phillies Nation

Braves continue pursuit of Shohei Ohtani, reports say – Phillies Nation

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Shohei Ohtani is a free agent. (Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire)

The Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes are in its final stages as the baseball world convenes in Nashville for the Winter Meetings. The Los Angeles Dodgers are the favorites to land the two-way superstar. The Blue Jays, Chicago Cubs, San Francisco Giants and his former team, the Los Angeles Angels, are also in the discussion.

But it appears there is a sixth team involved and according to MLB Network’s Jon Morosi, it is the Atlanta Braves.

The MLB insider said that the Braves “have not been eliminated from the conversation.” With the Dodgers speculated as the industry favorites to land Ohtani, Morosi believes Atlanta has as good of a chance to land Ohtani as any of the other four secondary landing spots.

He is reportedly expected to make his decision this week. That will likely open up the market for other big name position players on the market, including Rhys Hoskins.

Ohtani will likely sign for at least half billion dollars. Jon Heyman of the New York Post recently suggested that the bidding could reach $600 million.

If the Braves are still indeed in on Ohtani, there is an understanding that they are willing to meet the asking price.

Atlanta was in on Aaron Nola, which signaled a willingness to depart from the team’s strategy of staying out of the bidding for top free agents and trading for top players who are willing to sign below market extensions.

Perhaps two straight loses in the Division Series at the hands of the Phillies is the motivating factor for the Braves.

Signing Ohtani means the Braves would likely trade designated hitter Marcell Ozuna, who has one year and a club option remaining on his four-year, $65 million deal.

Assuming Ohtani recovers well from surgery, Ohtani could replace Max Fried in the Braves rotation in 2025. Ohtani will not pitch in 2024 after undergoing surgery on his elbow at the end of 2023. Fried is a free agent after 2024.

The Braves kicked off the Winter Meetings with a trade that sent outfielder Jared Kelenic, left-handed starter Marco Gonzales and first baseman Evan White to Atlanta for right-handed pitchers Cole Phillips and Jackson Kowar.

A former Mets top prospect who has experienced his share of ups and downs early on in his career, the 24-year-old Kelenic is seen as a bounce back bat who could thrive in a Braves lineup stacked with stars. Gonzales, who was once a Phillies trade target, gives them innings at the back end of the rotation. White hasn’t played in a major league game since 2021 and is on a six-year, $24 million contract that has two guaranteed years left.

The deal was essentially a salary dump by Seattle, allowing the Braves to acquire a young outfielder with upside and a veteran starting pitcher for a 27-year-old reliever and a top prospect coming off of Tommy John surgery.

The Braves getting Ohtani would be a worst-case scenario for the Phillies. Atlanta has won six straight NL East titles and are likely the favorites for years to come, even without Ohtani. Ohtani signing with Atlanta would easily make the Phillies-Braves rivalry the most fascinating in baseball, but the challenge of getting past Atlanta in the postseason becomes even more difficult.

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