On a rare occasion after performing poorly in pitching, Shohei Ohtani would joke with his team. “Maybe just hit,” he said, suggesting that he should give up pitching to focus on the offensive side of the game. However, there are no plans of Ohtani stopping being a two-way player. His agent, Nez Balelo, has told clubs that Ohtani intends to remain as an all-rounder. According to the Los Angeles Angels, the belief is that Ohtani enjoys hitting more than pitching. After undergoing surgery to repair damage to his pitching elbow, he will not be pitching in 2024.
The future of Ohtani as a pitcher has raised numerous questions surrounding his free agency. Although executives from teams have varied opinions on the type of contract he will command, and his potential impact on a team’s business, no one is quite certain of Ohtani’s future as a pitcher after his second major elbow surgery in five years. Teams have no idea about Ohtani’s potential contribution as a pitcher in the upcoming years. Some believe Ohtani will return to the pitch, but the question remains, for how long?
Even if Ohtani never pitches again, his offensive skills could be the reason he surpasses Mike Trout’s record-breaking deals. His international stardom makes him a valuable candidate overall. While Ohtani will miss his time as a pitcher, his offensive prowess still makes him a star in his own right. In the worst-case scenario, if he is unable to pitch, Ohtani still has the potential to be a Gold Glove right fielder. His ability to pitch is not the only variable in consideration for his free agency, it is also his star power that makes him a focal point for interested teams.
The marketing impact he could have is quite substantial and comparable to soccer legend Lionel Messi’s impact on the MLS team, Inter Miami. While the global reach might not be as significant as Messi’s, Ohtani’s potential as a two-way player is still extraordinarily valuable.