If presented with the opportunity, the Red Sox should pay whatever price it takes to bring two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani to Boston.

It shouldn’t even be a question.

That’s not the way things work, however, as Ohtani’s late-season elbow injury threw a small wrench into the way his free agency is being viewed.

The two-time MVP underwent Tommy John surgery in September, meaning he won’t pitch in 2024 and will be locked into serving as the designated hitter for whatever team shells out enough dough to sign him this offseason. In the real world, a pitcher with a 3.14 ERA being shelved for a season is enough to tank his value. The Red Sox saw that first-hand, signing James Paxton to a one-year deal with options after he had the surgery in 2021.

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Ohtani, though, is an alien.

In losing out on a Cy Young-level pitcher in 2024, whoever signs Ohtani is still gaining the best designated hitter in the game. The 29-year-old finished last season slashing .304/.412/.654 with an American League-leading 44 home runs as a hitter. He’s good for at least 30 home runs and 25 doubles per season while having the ability to slot into any spot in the top half of the order. He’d also crush at Fenway Park.

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He’s also proven he can return to form on the mound as soon as he’s healthy. Ohtani underwent Tommy John surgery in 2018 following his first season with the Angels, carrying a 2.97 ERA across his four subsequent seasons on the mound. The Red Sox have also done well with pitchers coming off their second TJ surgery, trading for Nathan Eovaldi just a few months after his return from his second surgery to a memorable result.

Ohtani’s value in the batter’s box cannot be overstated, and there aren’t many people who would bet against him returning from a second surgery even better than ever. This is a once-in-a-generation caliber player, and he should be handled as such — even if he’s entering the unknown.

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Featured image via Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports Images