Shohei Ohtani was selected as the American League's Outstanding Player by his peers for the second time in this year's Players Choice Awards announced Thursday.
The two-way superstar, who officially entered free agency the same day following his sixth season with the Los Angeles Angels, previously earned the award in 2021, when he was also named Player of the Year.
Atlanta Braves right fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. was named this season's Player of the Year, along with National League Outstanding Player.
"As a player, it has a special meaning to be selected by your peers -- not only by your teammates but also by your rivals," Ohtani said in a video released by the Major League Baseball Players Association.
"When they recognize you as the most outstanding player in the league, it's extra special and I'm very honored. I'll use this for motivation to try to get better going forward."
Ohtani is expected to sign a record-breaking MLB contract this winter, with the Los Angeles Dodgers tipped as a likely destination.
He is one of three Japanese players on the MLBPA's free agent list, along with pitchers Kenta Maeda, reportedly looking to re-sign with the Minnesota Twins, and Shintaro Fujinami, who finished his MLB rookie season with the Baltimore Orioles after being traded from the Oakland Athletics.
Ohtani this year became the first Japanese player to lead a U.S. major league in home runs with 44, while going 10-5 on the mound with a 3.14 ERA.
He led the majors in slugging rate (.654) and on-base-plus-slugging rate (1.066) but finished the season on the injured list after undergoing right elbow surgery that is likely to keep him off the mound in 2024.
The 29-year-old is also in the running for AL Silver Slugger at designated hitter and is the favorite to be named AL MVP when the winner is revealed on Nov. 16.
The Angels can negotiate exclusively with Ohtani until 5 p.m. Monday and are likely to offer him a customary one-year qualifying offer, which MLB set at $20.3 million this year. If accepted, this would represent a significant reduction from his $30 million 2023 salary.
If he refuses it, the Angels will be eligible to receive compensation in next year's MLB draft. Negotiations with other teams are expected to get serious during MLB's winter meetings in early December.