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Shohei Ohtani’s New Balance partnership leads to intense Red Sox speculation

Audacy 01/02/2023 Jesse Pantuosco
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After a tepid winter that brought plenty of roster turnover but little that would get fans excited, Red Sox Nation is already looking ahead to next offseason, and the opportunity to lure one of baseball’s brightest stars, Shohei Ohtani, to Boston. The Japanese phenom is entering the final year of his current contract with many anticipating his departure in free agency, leaving the Angels for a more lucrative deal elsewhere. Ohtani’s preference would obviously be to play for a contender, though if he’s seeking exposure to a major media market, especially in a city that lives and breathes baseball, you could certainly make an argument for Boston.

That might be wishful thinking. If fan favorite Xander Bogaerts was too rich for Boston's blood, why would they shell out twice as much for Ohtani? Spending big has never been Chaim Bloom’s MO, though the Red Sox did make an exception for Rafael Devers, the recent recipient of a $331-million extension, easily the largest in team history.

It’s not hyperbole to call Ohtani an unprecedented player, performing as an All-Star at two vastly different disciplines. The dual-threat slugger/ace made headlines Tuesday by announcing an endorsement deal with New Balance, a leading sports apparel manufacturer based in … well you already know.

It's a stretch to think Ohtani’s partnership with New Balance will have any impact on where he signs next offseason—brand ambassador Kawhi Leonard has never played for a Boston-based team, nor have fellow NB athletes Francisco Lindor and Dejounte Murray. Though that didn’t stop online conspiracy theorists from shaping their own narrative, foreshadowing his inevitable defection to Boston in 2024.

The 28-year-old has fared well at Fenway throughout his career (.317/.349/.537 batting line in 43 plate appearances with a 0.00 ERA in seven innings pitched) and could be intrigued by the prospect of playing alongside Masataka Yoshida, though it’s far too early to speculate on Ohtani’s future ahead of what should be a record bidding war in free agency. What we do know is that Ohtani is a mammoth talent, a once-in-a-generation unicorn operating on a completely different plane from the rest of Major League Baseball.

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