Why the Atlanta Braves are smart to avoid Ohtani
Despite being linked to Ohtani on multiple occasions, Alex Anthopoulos appears to have put that to bed.
Anthopoulos even added that if anyone has reported otherwise, someone is making something up.
Could AA be leading us off the scent because Ohtani has requested that nothing leak? Probably not. Before I get into why Ohtani doesn't make sense for the team. If team officials are legitimately scared to speak because Ohtani will tear up a contract with them if they do, that could be a problem. Is he overly worried about his privacy to the point he won't be able to handle a more scrutinizing media market? Is he just overly controlling to the point that GMs and managers are scared when they get asked about him? Ron Washington looked like someone pulled a gun on him when they asked him about Ohtani.
Ohtani has had his elbow reconstructed... twice. He's not pitching next year and it's unclear to what extent he'll be able to pitch in 2025. I get the argument that Ohtani is worth $50-$60 million if you consider him a hitter and a pitcher, but this guy may not be a full-time pitcher again until 2025 or maybe 2026. Even then, you don't know if you are getting the Ohtani you paid for. You just don't know.
If he didn't hit, would you be happy with a 10-year, $25 million deal for a pitcher coming off of two major elbow surgeries who won't pitch next year? No.
He turns 30 in July. He won't pitch again until he's 31 or 32. He's a DH. God forbid you pay him $50 million a year for a guy who ends up DH-ing. What does this contract look like in the back half of his 30s? A DH hitting 30-40 homers a year? You don't need to pay $50-$60 million for that.
The Braves are among the World Series favorites without Ohtani. They don't need the bat. They need pitching and he isn't going to do that next season. Could he come back completely healthy and defy the inevitable countdown of Father Time? Maybe. But is it worth a half-billion-dollar risk?
If the Braves signed Ohtani, the tax penalty implications would be enormous. We figured the AAV payroll at $307 million (lots of projections like arbitration salaries and such) and the luxury tax would be just under $40 million. So, in a way, the Braves would be paying $80-90 million for Ohtani. Read more about the competitive balance threshold here.
I don't think the Braves are ready to go there.
Where will Ohtani sign?
The Dodgers are the obvious choice. They do not fear a massive payroll and they want to win. They are winners in the same city as the Angels who are willing to pay up. We'll see how much Ohtani cared about his demand for radio silence because Dave Roberts flat-out did not get that memo.
I think Seattle is interesting. They've unloaded a lot of payroll, including the salary dump to the Braves. They only have six guys on guaranteed contracts, a lot of young talent, a really solid starting rotation, and they are currently about $100 million under the competitive balance tax threshold.
I think he stays put with the Angels. Simply because there is no better ending to the most boring biggest free-agent signing of all time. Ohtani goes... nowhere.