Shohei Ohtani is having another one of his historic, legendary, preposterous seasons. He is hitting .302 from the plate and leads the league with 32 homers. He's also gone 7-4 on the mound with a 3.32 ERA, a number that would've been lower if he didn't try to pitch through a blister on his throwing hand and give up back-to-back homers for the first time in his career right before the All-Star Break. In addition to all those stats there are approximately a million advanced numbers with weird capitalized acronyms that all tell you the same thing– the best player in baseball is performing to a level we've never seen before and probably will never see again.
Despite all that the Los Angeles Angels are still out of the playoff picture as of now, which is not entirely their fault but is the fact of the matter. If the team misses the playoffs again, it has become clear Ohtani is gone. He seems to like playing for the organization well enough but he has yet to play a single inning of postseason baseball, which is a shame for both him and all us fans. Unless the Angels get healthy and turn it around in the second half, Ohtani will become the most coveted free agent of all time come winter. And the recruiting has already begun. Just listen to the Seattle crowd chanting at a non-Mariners player during the All-Star Game last night.
I can't say I remember anything like this happening… ever? In any sport? This is LeBron James hitting free agency all over again except everyone knows it's coming five months out. The only thing that stands between Ohtani and the open market is a playoff push by Los Angeles, which is not out of the question.
But that is not as fun to think about. Instead, let us assume the Angels falter down the stretch, as they are wont to do, and Ohtani does indeed hit free agency at 29 years-old. He will command a contract well over $500 million from any place he chooses so owners who are notoriously cheap (like, say, John Fisher of the Athletics) are not going to have their teams in the running. Otherwise, though, it'll come down to Ohtani's preference because most teams will just give him a blank check if he says he wants to play for them.