Report: Red Sox in the mix for Shohei Ohtani, Yoshinobu Yamamoto

Red Sox

The Red Sox will likely be in on the top two free agents in this year’s class, per ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

The Red Sox have been linked to Shohei Ohtani. Ashley Landis/AP Photo

This upcoming MLB free agency class is filled with several players who can make key contributions to any team. According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, the Red Sox are in the mix to acquire several of them.

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The Red Sox’ desire begins at the very top, as Passan wrote that they are one of at least three teams in the mix to acquire two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani. Their competition includes the World Series-winning Texas Rangers and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Dodgers are currently the favorites to sign Ohtani, but Passan believes that it’s no guarantee that the Los Angeles Angels’ star stays in Hollywood.

“The Dodgers, Rangers and Boston Red Sox all are expected to be in the Ohtani sweepstakes, according to sources,” Passan wrote. “And though the industry’s overwhelming expectation is that he winds up with the Dodgers, that line of thinking is perhaps presumptive.”

The Red Sox have been linked to Ohtani multiple times in the past, largely due to his connections with Jim Davis, the CEO of Ohtani-endorsed New Balance, which is headquartered in Brighton. But Ohtani reportedly loves Boston for reasons that have nothing to do with business.

“[Ohtani] loves visiting Boston and has a fondness for Fenway Park,” Passan wrote.

Ohtani batted .304/.412/.654 with 44 home runs and 95 RBIs, leading the American League in on-base percentage and home runs while having the most home runs and the highest slugging percentage, OPS (1.066) and OPS+ (184) in all of MLB. Ohtani also pitched to a 3.14 ERA and a 1.061 WHIP in 132 innings before going down with a UCL tear that required season-ending surgery.

This injury will almost certainly keep Ohtani away from the mound in 2024, but that doesn’t mean that this free agency class doesn’t have any elite pitchers. NPB’s Orix Buffaloes superstar Yoshinobu Yamamoto will be available to sign this offseason, and the Red Sox are reportedly very interested in doing so.

“With the trajectory of the bidding and the teams involved — the Yankees, Mets, Cubs, Red Sox, Dodgers, perhaps San Francisco and Toronto as well — Yamamoto could find himself in their company, and the separator could be which team is willing to offer him big money and an opt-out clause to further leverage his age,” Passan wrote.

Yamamoto is widely seen as one of the best free agent pitchers on the market, if not the best. The 25-year-old pitched to a 1.21 ERA and a 0.884 WHIP in 164 innings last season. He capped off his season by winning his third straight Sawamura Award (Japan’s equivalent to the Cy Young Award) and triple crown, and it’s possible he wins his third consecutive Most Valuable Player award as well. 

Many teams will be vying for Yamamoto’s services this offseason, just as they will for Ohtani. And at least one insider believes that the Red Sox will be one of those interested teams.