Occasionally, Shohei Ohtani would make jokes in the Los Angeles Angels’ dugout after one of his rare poor pitching performances, suggesting that he should just focus on hitting. His agent Nez Balelo of CAA is telling clubs interested in Ohtani as a free agent that he intends to remain a two-way player. After undergoing surgery in September to repair a damaged ligament in his pitching elbow, he will not pitch in 2024. The biggest question in baseball — what is Ohtani worth? — remains unchanged. But the uncertainty surrounding Ohtani’s future as a pitcher after his second major elbow surgery in five years makes his free agency perhaps even more complex than it was before.
Interviews with seven executives revealed a variety of opinions on the type of contract he will command, his potential impact on a team’s business, and his pitching future. There is still much to be determined regarding Ohtani’s future performance, especially as a pitcher. At the moment, the focus is more on his ability as a hitter and the potential impact he could have on a team’s business.
There is a level of uncertainty given the injury he is recovering from. Once again Balelo will disclose that information with clubs if he has not already. The uncertainty makes it all but impossible to evaluate what Ohtani might contribute as a pitcher in 2025 and beyond. Nevertheless, Ohtani is a rare talent regardless of the role he plays on the team.
The decision surrounding Ohtani’s potential has many factors to consider. Not only is his talent a critical element of the decision, but there is also his injury history and star power to consider. His future with the team is still uncertain, but he is still expected to have a significant impact on the game of baseball.