Shohei Ohtani's Agent Says His Client Has "Earned the Right" to "Explore Free Agency"

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Shohei Ohtani’s Agent Says His Client Has “Earned the Right” to “Explore Free Agency”

Chicago Cubs

It remains possible that superstar two-way player Shohei Ohtani is extended by the Los Angeles Angels at the zero hour, but with every day that passes and the regular season draws near, it becomes more and more likely Ohtani actually hits free agency.

Heck, that decision may have already been made.

Consider comments from Ohtani’s agent at the OC Register, when asked about the topic of extensions and free agency (wait for it … ):

“My typical answer to all of that is you know I don’t comment on any of that kind of stuff,” said (Nez) Balelo, who works for CAA Sports. “Right now, Shohei is an Angel. He’s going to be an Angel all year. He’s thrilled about it. Perry has put together a really good team so we’re excited about what is to come in ’23.”

Balelo also declined to put any sort of deadline on negotiations. He said he is “always open” to talking, including during spring training. He suggested it becomes more challenging once the season begins, though.

“It’s a fine line when you ask a player to go through something like that during the season,” Balelo said. “Typically, it doesn’t happen, but I don’t have the crystal ball in front of me. I would just say that it’s tough to be able to have a discussion that will be so meaningful during the season. That probably makes more sense to table it and wait till the end of the season.”

“There’s several layers to this one, and Shohei’s earned the right to play through the year, explore free agency, and we’ll see where it shakes out.”

Oh, hello there. Shohei’s “earned the right” to “explore free agency”? That doesn’t sound like the commentary of an agent who thinks a remotely acceptable extension offer is coming this year from the Angels. It sounds like an agent who knows his client at least wants the opportunity to see what else is out there for him.

Hey, maybe he’s been hearing good things from Seiya Suzuki about the Cubs

I’m mostly kidding around there, because for as much as I DESPERATELY want the Cubs to pursue Ohtani next offseason, I don’t think you can – right now – say that the Cubs will definitely be in the $500+ million contract market. They should be, especially for Ohtani, but we just don’t know if that’ll be their lane. Tom Ricketts certainly wasn’t going to confirm it out loud.

That said, it’s still worth remembering that the Cubs were one of Ohtani’s finalists when he was first coming over from Japan, and they do still get mentioned as a possible Ohtani pursuer (as recently as today from Jon Heyman). It’s worth keeping on our radars. I mean, it’s worth it anyway because Ohtani is fascinating WHEREVER he goes. But I just mean it isn’t yet utterly impossible that the Cubs will give him a real pursuit.

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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.