Yankees Withdraw from Bidding for Two-Way Superstar

Exploring the Yankees' latest roster and financial strategies.

by Nouman Rasool
Yankees Withdraw from Bidding for Two-Way Superstar
© Mark Brown/Getty Images

The New York Yankees, known for their pursuit of top-tier talent, have reportedly withdrawn from the race to sign Shohei Ohtani, a two-way superstar expected to command a staggering $500 million contract. Jeff Passan of ESPN has indicated that the Yankees are not actively pursuing the 29-year-old phenom, who recently underwent Tommy John surgery and will not be pitching in the 2024 season.

Ohtani, however, remains a formidable force offensively. In the previous season, he boasted impressive stats, playing in 135 games with a .304 batting average, a .412 on-base percentage, and a .654 slugging rate. His performance included hitting 44 home runs and driving in 95 runs.

There was widespread speculation that Ohtani might surpass Aaron Judge's home run record, but an unfortunate injury cut his season short. Despite this, he ended the year with a remarkable 180 wRC+ and a 6.6 WAR, solidifying his status as one of baseball's elite players.

Yankees' Strategic Dilemma

The Yankees, however, face a unique set of challenges that make Ohtani less of a fit for their current roster. With Giancarlo Stanton firmly established as the primary designated hitter and still owed $98 million in luxury tax salary until a potential $10 million buyout in 2028, the Yankees have financial and positional considerations to weigh.

Moreover, the hefty price tag associated with acquiring Ohtani could be better allocated. The Yankees could potentially pursue other free agents like Juan Soto or engage in trade deals, including a move for Yoshinobu Yamamoto, thus potentially acquiring two high-caliber players for the price of one.

Despite the setback of not pitching in the upcoming season, Ohtani's record over the past few years speaks volumes about his capabilities. Last season, he posted a 3.14 ERA and averaged 11.39 strikeouts per nine innings, with an impressive 80.3% left-on-base rate over 132 innings.

This level of performance is not something that comes along often, and his absence from the mound until 2025 due to his injury will undoubtedly be felt. Furthermore, there's a prevailing sentiment that Ohtani has a preference for the West Coast, positioning the Los Angeles Dodgers as a strong contender for his next team.

The Yankees, while always a force in the free-agent market, seem to be charting a different course this offseason, focusing on players who can immediately contribute and fit within their strategic and financial framework.