The speculation as to where Shohei Ohtani might end up next has ended, and we have some bad news for nearly every fan base who’d hoped that Ohtani would move to their team of choice this offseason. We also have some bad news for the Angels faithful who’d grown to love Ohtani for his prowess as both a batter and a pitcher. Ohtani is staying in Los Angeles, but he’ll be playing across town next season – specifically, for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“To all the fans and everyone involved in the baseball world, I apologize for taking so long to come to a decision. I have decided to choose the Dodgers as my next team,” Ohtani wrote in an Instagram post on Saturday. He also stated that “[t]he six years I spent with the Angels will remain etched in my heart forever.”
It sounds like he has more to say on the subject. “There are some things that cannot be conveyed in writing, so I would like to talk more about this again at a later press conference,” he wrote at post’s end.
There’s also the matter of Ohtani’s new contract with the Dodgers, which will see him make $700 million over the next 10 years. As ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez writes, this deal has set multiple records, including the largest deal overall and the larger annual salary. To give a sense of the proportions involved, Gonzalez also pointed out that the $70 million annual salary implicit in that contract is more than the entire 2023 payrolls of two MLB teams.
Precisely what the salary will look like in detail remains to be seen; sources told ESPN that a significant portion of Ohtani’s salary will be deferred, as per a suggestion from Ohtani himself.
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At The Athletic’s Fabian Ardaya observed, this deal also gives the Dodgers a frankly terrifying lineup of batters, with Ohtani joining the already-formidable Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman. The Dodgers had one of the best regular-season records in 2023; cue the speculation about what this team will look like with Ohtani on board.
We’ll know for sure in late March, when the Dodgers’ season opens with a pair of games against the Padres in Seoul.