If you've found the early days of Shohei Ohtani's free agency to be quieter than anticipated, then rest assured that it's by design. According to ESPN's Jeff Passan, Ohtani and agent Nez Balelo are intent on keeping things mum -- to the extent they might debit teams who leak information about and throughout the courting process.
"If visits between Ohtani and a team are reported publicly, it will be held against the team, so the circles will be tiny and tight," Passan wrote on Tuesday.
Ohtani and Balelo's insistence on keeping details close to their vest is sensible enough. It stands to reason that Ohtani is probably tired of dealing with the nonstop speculation and scrutiny that dominated what is likely to be remembered as his final season with the Los Angeles Angels. (That stuff comes with the territory to an extent, but let's face it: he's been exposed to more than his share already.)
Besides, part of the reason that players and agents (and teams, mind you) leak information on free-agent interest is to create pressure and gain leverage in negotiations. Atypical players create atypical situations, and Ohtani doesn't require those kinds of tricks because he's arguably the most talented player in the sport's history.
Welcome to the most anticipated free agency in league history. Ohtani will not pitch next year after undergoing elbow surgery to correct a torn ulnar collateral ligament, yet he's expected to be in someone's lineup as a DH come Opening Day. (He's slated to return to the mound in 2025.) Ohtani is certain to receive a mammoth, record-breaking payday in the interim. Why wouldn't he? He's ranked in the top 10 in both ERA+ and OPS+ since debuting, and along the way has single-handedly shifted the Overton Window on two-way players. It's fair to wonder how his workload will change in the future -- perhaps he someday shifts to a relief role? -- but that's the risk you gladly stomach when you're blessed with the opportunity to sign the kind of anomaly who invokes references to Leon Day, Bullet Rogan, Martín Dihigo, and Babe Ruth. "Destiny is the music of the improbable," Kenneth Patchen once wrote. "Were it otherwise, almost anyone could exist." Make sure you find a way to enjoy Ohtani's tune this winter, even as the noise around him ramps up.
Passan adds that some potential suitors believe Ohtani could make his decision in a relatively quick manner, perhaps before Major League Baseball's annual winter meetings kick off in early December.