Yankees gearing up for pursuit of Shohei Ohtani in 2023

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The New York Yankees just made Aaron Judge the highest paid position player in baseball at $40 million per season, after agreeing to a nine-year, $360 million contract on Wednesday amid interest by the San Francisco Giants and the San Diego Padres.

They also have a pair of $300 million-plus contracts in Gerrit Cole and Giancarlo Stanton, and have to bring in upgrades at several positions during the offseason.

Yet, they are the Yankees, and should always be a step ahead. That means the team is monitoring the Shohei Ohtani situation and is expected to make a move.

Ohtani, the Los Angeles Angels’ two-way star, is signed for $30 million this season, his last one of team control. It means he will be a free agent after the 2023 World Series, and the Yankees, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, will be pursuing him.

Passan said that every big-market team that calls itself a contender should be all over Ohtani.

“I don’t want to say he’s going to the Dodgers next year because every team…listen, the Yankees are gonna be on him,” Passan said Wednesday on The Pat McAfee Show. “Steve Cohen, the Mets owner, the Mets are gonna be in on him. The Cubs are gonna be in on him. The Pirates are not gonna be in. … Yeah, Red Sox will be on him.”

Will the Yankees hand another huge contract?

Ohtani presents a unique profile, dominating as a hitter and as a pitcher. He is the 2021 American League MVP and came in second in the 2022 voting, after Yankees’ star Judge.

This past season, Ohtani hit 34 home runs, drove in 95 runs and slashed .273/.356/.519 at the plate. As a hurler, he went 15-9 with a 2.33 ERA and 219 strikeouts in 166 innings.

It’s difficult to see the Yankees handing yet another $300 million contract (this one may actually push or surpass $400 million), but they can’t be ruled out and Passan’s remarks prove it.

The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported in June that Ohtani may earn more than Max Scherzer’s record-setting $43.3 million average annual salary in the open market.

Will the Yankees be willing to splash the cash once again when it’s time?

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