For one shining moment, the Boston Red Sox could hold their heads (and wallets) up and declare that they were earnestly in the running to secure one of the greatest players the game has ever seen in Shohei Ohtani. Think about Ohtani hitting bombs over the Green Monster! Think about the New Balance connection! It was going to cost a lot of money, but the Red Sox were ready to be aggressive and make their best signing in years.
But now, no longer. ESPN's Jeff Passan reports that multiple teams once thought to be in on the Ohtani sweepstakes — the Rangers, Mets, and, yes, the Red Sox, have bowed out.
This thins the overall Ohtani pool significantly, supposedly leaving behind the Dodgers, Cubs, Blue Jays, and Angels behind. Any leads having to do with Ohtani's free agency is objectively good for baseball, given the absolute tear-your-hair-out levels of frustration that mere speculation and waiting breeds, but this is undoubtedly a sad development for the Red Sox, who not only are missing out on the player that Ohtani is but also the insane monetary boost he'll represent to any club he goes to.
MLB Insider: the Red Sox are out on Shohei Ohtani
Toxic positivity is bad, but let's try to soften the blow a little, shall we? If Ohtani had come to Red Sox, his presence would displace Masataka Yoshida from the DH spot, where he spent about a third of his plate appearances, sending Yoshida more or less permanently to left field, where his defense struggled mightily throughout 2023 (Baseball Savant puts him in their second percentile in fielding run value). It's true that Ohtani is mathematically expected to add about four extra wins all by himself next year, but putting Yoshida in left everyday would simply bring down the time as a whole.
We could also bright side a little more by mentioning that it seems as though the Red Sox are still in on another huge Japanese player in Yoshinobu Yamamoto, hoping to reunite him with Yoshida in an Orix Buffaloes reunion in Boston. Acquiring Yamamoto wouldn't require shuffling the lineup and messing with defensive configurations, and he would give new life to the Red Sox's beleaguered lineup.
While this is disappointing news, at least there are still exciting things that could be in the works for the team. Hopefully, the Red Sox will take all of the money they have stockpiled in reserve for Ohtani and put it toward others who will be able to provide if not equal then close to the same value to the team.