Known as a unicorn, a two-way star who shattered even the loftiest of expectations prior to arriving stateside, Shohei Ohtani’s upcoming free agency seemed (and likely still is) poised to be the biggest blockbuster in MLB history.
Running away with what will be his second American League MVP award, the Los Angeles Angels star left his 23rd start of the year early on Wednesday, with the club announcing later in the day that Ohtani had sustained a torn UCL in his pitching elbow.
While Ohtani will continue to play as the Angels’ designated hitter for the remainder of the season, the injury is the phenom’s second of its kind, with Ohtani previously undergoing Tommy John surgery following the 2018 season, his rookie year.
The injury significantly shifts the climate of the entire free agency market, with predictions of a contract that would shatter the MLB record of the 12-year, $426.5 million contract the Angels gave to his teammate, Mike Trout.
Leading the league with 44 home runs this season and having 124 long balls to his name in just the last three seasons, Ohtani still provides tremendous value both on and off the field, even as just a designated hitter.
Although numerous pitchers, including current Chicago Cubs’ starter Jameson Taillon, have come back from two Tommy John surgeries (though it is unclear if Ohtani will opt for a second surgery), the injury undoubtedly raises the level of concern of front offices, particularly those seen as leading contenders for the star’s services.
While the injury does cast uncertainty over both Ohtani’s market and the overall market, the path forward for the Cubs could perhaps be clearer.