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Thursday BP: Shohei Ohtani expected to make a decision in the next few days

But then again, who knows.

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Shohei Ohtani looking over his shoulder in the dugout. Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Thursday, San Francisco Giants fans.

The 2023 Winter Meetings turned out to be something of a dud. Most expected the customary flurry of big moves ... instead, a one-year, $13 million deal for Craig Kimbrel was the largest contract finalized at the meetings.

When the Giants had a low-key — if exciting — Rule 5 Draft on Wednesday, it marked the unofficial end of the meetings.

The expectation remains that the league is awaiting Shohei Ohtani’s decision before the rest of the stars start to sign contracts. And thankfully, that may be coming soon.

Ohtani did not sign before or even during the Winter Meetings, as had once been reported. So take the following with a grain of salt: the latest reports suggest he is likely to decide on a new team before the end of the weekend.

Nobody knows anything, but if you were to listen the people who know nothing, you’d end up believing that the Giants are still in the running for Ohtani but not the favorites. Which is also a conclusion you could probably conclude without listening to the people who know nothing. But knowing nothing is all we got!

In other news regarding huge free agents that the Giants desperately want to sign, numerous outlets have reported that right-handed pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto is headed stateside to meet with teams next week. The Athletic’s Will Sammon reports that seven teams are considered “serious suitors:” the Giants, Dodgers, Yankees, Mets, Blue Jays, and, since Yamamoto is a very special case, not one but two mystery teams.

Bidding for Yamamoto, once thought to be tidily under $200 million, is now expected to reach around $300 million after his posting fee is accounted for. The narrative has shifted lately to reports that paint the New York teams as being in the driver’s seat, though I doubt the Giants will be outbid (unless they land Ohtani).

Elsewhere in baseball news, some action started to happen post-meetings. Juan Soto’s trade was finalized, sending him to the Yankees ... and crucially, out of the NL West. But the Giants competition in the division did improve, with the Diamondbacks signing left-handed pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez to a four-year, $80 million deal with incentives.

And the Reds, arguably the one team in baseball that doesn’t need help in the infield, somehow kicked off free agency by signing Jeimer Candelario.