No matter how you slice it, the news of Shohei Ohtani's UCL tear in his pitching elbow is a devastating blow to the baseball world. But could the San Diego Padres still stand to benefit by pursuing him this winter?
Ohtani is done pitching in 2023, that we know for sure. However, he could still hit down the stretch for the Los Angeles Angels because he's simply a unicorn. Therefore, the value proposition still remains for teams like the Padres: a chance to acquire a fearsome slugger with the added upside of him once again returning to his two-way form.
On that note, let's analyze two reasons San Diego should still pursue Shohei Ohtani this winter, and one reason they may want to pivot.
The San Diego Padres should still pursue Shohei Ohtani this winter because his perceived value is less certain, which could drop his price tag
The Padres are running MLB's third-highest payroll in 2023, a byproduct of their aggressive owner and front office. And it stands to reason that next year, this trend will continue even if it isn't sustainable over the long haul. That's because winning is at the forefront (though the results don't illustrate such ambitions in 2023).
So in an effort to keep the dream alive for next season, could San Diego realistically make a Shohei Ohtani pursuit in a few months? The answer is (still) probably not. However, the two-way star's elbow injury at least makes things interesting.
Ohtani's value stems from his ability to hit and pitch. But pitching numbers aside, Ohtani's still an extremely prolific hitter, with 44 home runs and a 181 wRC+ as a designated hitter in 2023.
That said, it's wiser to pay players for who they'll be rather than who they've been. And considering Ohtani likely won't be a pitcher until at least 2025, that should drop his price tag somewhat. Perhaps even enough to entice the Padres.