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Dodgers Win Ohtani Sweepstakes: Sho Goes From Red to Blue For Record Green

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Dec. 9, 2023

Morgan Killian-Moseley

The most sought-after free agent in Major League Baseball history will still play for Los Angeles for the foreseeable future, but the Japanese Babe Ruth will be playing his home games in the actual City of Angels rather than Orange County.

Two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani announced on his Instagram today that he has signed a contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Ohtani’s agent, Nez Balelo of CAA Sports, said the deal is a 10-year agreement for $700 million; the largest deal in sports history.

You can check out Ohtani's original post here:

According to writer Thomas Harrigan, “Ohtani's deal includes what one source described as ‘unprecedented deferrals,’ including the majority of his salary, a source told's Mark Feinsand. That was the 2-way superstar's idea, as he wanted to mitigate the competitive balance tax and cash flow burdens to allow his new club to be as competitive as possible.”

Ohtani won the 2023 AL MVP award with the Los Angeles Angels, his second consecutive, hitting .304 with a Major League-leading 1.066 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, an AL-best 44 home runs, 102 runs scored and 95 runs batted in. He also led the AL with 325 total bases. On the mound, Ohtani went 10-5 in 23 starts, posting a pi-licious 3.14 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP (walks & hits per inning pitched) ratio while striking out 167 of the 531 batters he faced over 132 innings pitched. Ohtani also led the Majors with a total 10.0 WAR (wins above replacement) rating. All this despite the fact that Ohtani missed the last month of the season due to a UCL tear in his right elbow, which limited him to DH duty only over his last week-and-a-half of game action in 2023 and will continue to do so through 2024. Ohtani also picked up the AL Silver Slugger award for designated hitters, as well as the Edgar Martinez Award for most outstanding DH.

Now that the Dodgers have their man, despite some reports yesterday leading people to believe Ohtani would sign with the Toronto Blue Jays, Ohtani will be locked into the 3-hole in Dave Roberts's lineup. With Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman hitting in front of Ohtani, the Dodgers may have the scariest top of the order in recent MLB history, and any opposing starting pitcher will definitely have their work cut out for them at the beginning of any outing against the Boys in Blue. Catcher Will D. Smith, who will likely remain in the cleanup spot in the order, may see his already strong production numbers rise even higher hitting behind Ohtani.

That lineup will be looking to settle some unfinished business from 2023, as L.A. won the National League West and a first-round bye, but were manhandled by the division rival and eventual NL Champion Arizona Diamondbacks in a three-game sweep in the Division Series.

Of course with Ohtani at DH, J.D. Martinez, who was the starting DH for the NL in the 2023 All-Star Game, will likely sign elsewhere in free agency.

As for Ohtani's pitching future, he’ll have a full year to think about it. There are very few cases of a pitcher having continued success at a Major League level after multiple Tommy John surgeries, and none of them could hit like Ohtani can. (Want proof? On June 28th against the Chicago White Sox Ohtani became the first player to reach base safely four times, hit multiple home runs, and strike out 10 or more opposing batters since Happy Jack Stivetts in 1890; five years before Babe Ruth was born.) Like the Bambino before him, Ohtani may have to choose whether or not to abandon pitching. If he does take the mound again in 2025, he’ll likely be taking over the ace role from all-time Dodger great and future first-ballot Hall-Of-Famer Clayton Kershaw, and he’ll have some rotation mates who’ll have had similar experiences. Walker Buehler is coming off Tommy John surgery himself, having missed all of last season, and may not be ready for Opening Day 2024. Dustin May missed most of last season with an elbow injury as well, and his status for Opening Day could also be up in the air.

But considering the record deal, and the fact that Ohtani will likely still get paid long after his playing days are over thanks to his Bobby Bonilla-esque deferments (insert collective groan from Mets fans here) (also insert groan from fans of whichever team(s) will be paying Max Scherzer’s deferred salary), the Dodgers are betting on Ohtani staying in MVP form; whether he takes the mound again or not.

Regardless, the Boys in Blue are all in on getting themselves back to the playoffs and getting their new star into his first postseason. Dodgers tickets will likely be an even hotter commodity now that one of the best players of all time is now one of their own. The spotlight is on Ohtani and L.A.; and it's brighter than ever before.

Now, more than ever, it's Sho Time.


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