MLB Insider indicates Braves are still in on Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes

Earlier today, a notable MLB Insider indicated the Braves have not been ruled out for the services of Shohei Ohtani.
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After the Braves' most recent transaction which addressed their left field needs with Jarred Kelenic, it seemed that off-season moves for improving the offense would be coming to a halt for Alex Anthopoulos. However, this morning a bombshell rumor was dropped. 

MLB insider Jon Morosi mentioned on MLB Network earlier today that the Braves haven't been eliminated from contention for Ohtani's services and should not be overlooked as a landing spot for the international superstar.

Now, don’t get too excited because it is highly unlikely due to several reasons but the Atlanta Braves are reportedly still in on Shohei Ohtani. As much as we all want this to become reality, it's important to remain very skeptical of this happening.

Atlanta simply can’t afford Ohtani 

Back when Alex Anthopoulos commented on raising payroll for the 2024 season, it is unlikely he meant adding a player to the biggest contract in MLB history. Shohei Ohtani is expected to sign a contract worth around $500-$600 million. 

The Braves' payroll has already increased with the acquisitions of players like Aaron Bummer and Reynaldo Lopez. Add on the recent trade for Jarred Kelenic, Marco Gonzales, and Evan White and the Braves are already above the CBT threshold.

There's also the concern with Ohtani having another UCL surgery and missing out on pitching in 2024 but he'd be an amazing designated hitter for Atlanta. He does plan to return to the mound in 2025 so Atlanta would be banking on that to make the investment worth it.

At this point, there is no way that Atlanta can drop $600 million plus on one player at the moment. Sure, other moves could be made to free up some space but those moves won’t be easy to make which leads us to our next point. 

Unloading Ozuna and Iglesias may be an option

Anthopoulos has made it very clear that players like Michael Harris II and Ozzie Albies are not available for trade. To free up a roster spot and a little bit of cash for Ohtani, Atlanta’s best option is most likely to dump Raisel Iglesias and Marcell Ozuna’s contracts, which is no small task. 

Iglesias is owed $32 million over the next two seasons and Ozuna is owed $16 million for 2024. If Atlanta was able to push their contracts to someone else before the start of 2024, this would free up about $32 million to spend. If Ohtani accepted $32 million per season, it would take over 18 years before it reached the $600 million he is anticipated to receive. This puts into perspective how near impossible it seems for Ohtani to end up with Atlanta. 

The only other scenario in which that kind of contract would work is if it is heavily backloaded similar to how Bryce Harper's deal with the Phillies is structured. Of course, having Ohtani pays for itself in terms of merchandising. He is the only player to have more jerseys sold than Ronald Acuna Jr.

Couple that with him being one of the most entertaining players in baseball and you've got a recipe for success. Fans are going to come to the ballpark to watch him play.

Ohtani would need to take short-term deal 

The Braves are set up to win a World Series for a few years even without Ohtani. The future is not something Anthopoulos has to worry about. To secure that major contract over half a billion dollars, Ohtani would need to sign an 8-10-year deal. The best offer Atlanta would be comfortable giving him most likely sits in the 3-6 year range.  

If Ohtani truly prioritizes winning over getting paid, maybe the Braves could persuade him. However, contrary to what we were all taught as children, money does talk and the Braves may not be able to give the superstar what he is looking for. Especially when the Dodgers check off all the boxes Ohtani is looking for including location as he has a home in Hawaii to help him have a place in between the States and Japan.

Time will tell and the Shohei sweepstakes likely will come to an end soon as many believe he will make a decision within the next week. If Ohtani becomes a Brave, fans will be ecstatic but its better remain cautiously optimistic.