Could the Phillies be the mystery team in the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes?

With rumors of a mystery team in the running for Ohtani, a surprise signing with the Phillies makes sense.
Are the Philadelphia Phillies the mystery team in the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes?
Are the Philadelphia Phillies the mystery team in the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes? / Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Baseball season has been done for a while, and it didn’t end positively for the Philadelphia Phillies. Sorry to bring that back up, but there’s an event on the horizon that can wash down the tough pill to swallow that was the Phillies' postseason exit. It's the MLB Winter Meetings, and generally speaking, they mark the beginning of the 2024 season. This year, the newsworthy event is being held in Nashville, Tennessee from December 3-6 in Nashville’s Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center.

The “MLB Hot Stove” has had an entirely separate pot for the Shohei Ohtani news mill to cook in. As the Winter Meetings approach, Ohtani news will take up more burners on the stove because of how his signing will change the entire landscape of the MLB.

It has already started with a report from USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, who reported that the Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels, Toronto Blue Jays, Chicago Cubs, San Francisco Giants, and a mystery team are in hot pursuit of Ohtani’s spectacular two-way services. 

Could this mystery team be the Philadelphia Phillies? Has Dave Dombrowski been cooking up an Ohtani deal like Walter White and Jesse Pinkman? As baseball followers and enjoyers, we are aware of Dombrowski’s history of going after the big fish no matter what team he is leading. 

Dombrowski's history makes you believe a Phillies' Ohtani signing is possible

He led the Florida Marlins in 1997 to a World Series trophy with many pricey free agents. He led the Detroit Tigers for eleven years which included two World Series appearances in 2006 and 2012. Dombrowski brought in great players like Justin Verlander, Ivan Rodgriguez, Miguel Cabrera, Magglio Ordonez, and Victor Martinez along the way. 

With the Boston Red Sox, he led them to a World Series championship in 2018 that was powered by many Dombrowski acquisitions in David Price, Chris Sale, Craig Kimbrel, and J.D. Martinez. Of course, there is his Phillies tenure with the acquisitions of Kyle Schwarber, Nick Castellanos, Trea Turner, and the re-signing of Aaron Nola. 

Dombrowski has been able to build a winner at most of his stops as an MLB executive. He has collectively led the Marlins, Tigers, Red Sox, and Phillies to eleven playoff appearances, five pennants, and two World Series titles. 

The track record that Dombrowski has built for himself and the winning situations is what could sway Ohtani to elect to sign with the "mystery team." It seems very Dombrowski-like to wind up as the unnamed team. A menacing cobra, just lying in the weeds, taking notes, waiting to strike at the right time. 

A combination of the calm before the storm and the sleeping giant is what Dombrowski is. The guy has a flare for making seismic shifts in the baseball landscape with his ability to get blockbuster deals done. Why wouldn’t a guy who seemingly zeros in on moves of such magnitude bring Ohtani to Philadelphia? 

Ohtani would be the greatest signing in Phillies history

It would be easily the greatest signing in the history of the franchise. Sorry Bryce Harper and Cliff Lee, but Shohei Ohtani only takes up one roster spot but can produce up to par and even better than both guys mentioned. 

It would be another feather in the cap of Dombrowski’s hat to sign Ohtani, as it would be high and above the greatest Asian-born player the Phillies have ever employed. Why not keep making history? Dombrowski helped break the longest postseason drought that was actively happening in 2022, which led to a team that is already immortalized in Phillies lore. Also, he helped assemble one of the greatest lineups in franchise history this past season that raked. 

Ohtani wants to play for a winner, and the Phillies are positioned to remain one. Ohtani probably wants to play for sellout crowds and fans who have a tangible passion. Like Philadelphia or not, the city’s passion was one of the top storylines of the entire postseason for back-to-back seasons. 

It would be such an unexpected twist for the Phillies to be the mystery team. Possibly, it could help with the MLB’s ratings and marketability because of the ability to paint a narrative against Philadelphia. That generally happens whenever Philadelphia teams are good, no matter the sport. 

Maybe it’s a complete fantasy, but that's what a lot of the Winter Meetings is all about — getting caught up in what your team can finagle to completely soup up their roster. Only, with the Phillies, there’s certainly a chance because their World Series window is so small.

An Ohtani signing would open it right up.

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