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Should Red Sox Offer Shohei Ohtani a $600M Contract Next Offseason?

Should Red Sox offer Ohtani a $600M contract next offseason? originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Shohei Ohtani already was expected to sign a record-breaking contract in free agency next winter. His price only went up after a historic performance in the 2023 World Baseball Classic.

The Los Angeles Angels' two-way phenom hit .435 with one homer, four doubles, eight RBI, and 10 walks in the tournament. He also went 2-0 with a save and a 1.86 ERA on the mound while striking out 11 hitters in 9 2/3 innings -- including MLB teammate Mike Trout to clinch the WBC championship for Japan.

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Ohtani could command $ 600 million as a free agent next offseason, according to ESPN's Buster Olney. That would be over $ 100 million more than any contract in MLB history. But if the 2021 American League MVP can stay healthy, he might be worth every penny.

Should the Boston Red Sox consider paying that price for Ohtani when he becomes a free agent? John Tomase, Chris Gasper, and Trenni Casey shared their takes on Wednesday's "Early Edition."

"I've done sort of a 180 on this one because for years, I was of the mind, let other teams spend 3, 4, 500 million dollars on players because it's bad business," Tomase said. "But the game has changed and right now, very few impact players even reach free agency. Rafael Devers is the latest example. These guys are getting locked up.

"When you have a generational talent like Ohtani and you are a Red Sox team that is desperate for interest -- because even if this team exceeds expectations and pulls a 2021, we all know we're just doing the same thing next offseason of shuttling out one one-year contract for another one-year contract. Shohei Ohtani is someone you can hitch your wagon to as a fan, as an organization."

Gasper took the other side of the argument, citing the Angels' struggles despite having the best two players in the game on their roster.

"I hate to be the party pooper, and I love Shohei Ohtani as a player. And if the Red Sox sign him, I wouldn't be mad. But just objectively, taking the emotion out of it, I wouldn't do this," Gasper said. "Because I just look at the Angels and they haven't had a winning record their last few years. That's not Shohei Ohtani's fault, but this isn't the NBA. Like, you can't just sign one guy and he changes your whole franchise.

"I think the Red Sox would still have to do some things that they've struggled to do over the last couple of years. Player development, developing position players, developing young pitching. You look at the Angels, they have the two best players on the planet, Ohtani and (Mike) Trout, and they can't even have a winning season."

Casey believes combining Ohtani with Devers and the hyped-up prospects in the pipeline could be a recipe for long-term success.

"You could argue that's why they brought Chaim Bloom here. They brought him here to get those sort of diamonds in the rough and to build up," Casey said. "And they'll tell us all the time about how much better their farm system is now than it was before. So ideally, they are doing those other things. They have guys coming up in the system that they can pull from.

"And then you'd have two highly-paid players on your roster in Rafael Devers and hopefully Shohei Ohtani. You're going to lose Chris Sale's money next year. I think you're finally done paying David Price. They have the money to spend."

Ohtani is a perennial MVP candidate and is capable of winning the Cy Young award while hitting 40 home runs in a season. The Red Sox have been reluctant to spend big since Bloom's arrival in the front office, but they should consider making an exception for one of the greatest talents the sport has ever seen.

You can watch the full Ohtani debate in the video above.

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