Shohei Ohtani, who is expected to sign a record-breaking MLB contract this winter, is set to enter the first phase of that process on Thursday, when the Major League Baseball Players Association publishes the names of players who will become free agents.

The Los Angeles Angels' 29-year-old two-way star, arguably one of the best players in recent decades, hit 44 home runs this year, making him the first Japanese player to lead one of MLB's two leagues in homers. He is also expected to win his second American League MVP award.

The Angels will likely make him a one-year qualifying offer, set this year by MLB at $20.5 million dollars. That amount would represent a huge pay cut from the $30 million he earned in 2023, an MLB record for an arbitration-eligible player.

If he refuses that, the Angels will be eligible to receive compensation in next year's MLB draft.

Ohtani had elbow surgery in September that will prevent him from pitching in 2024. He intends to exclusively serve as a hitter until he is able to resume his two-way career in the batter's box and on the pitcher's mound from 2025.

The Los Angeles Dodgers, who came close to signing Ohtani out of high school, are a likely landing spot, with negotiations expected to get serious during MLB's winter meetings in early December.

The current record MLB contract is Angels teammate Mike Trout's $426.5 million.