Will Shohei Ohtani, who is expected to sign the biggest contract in Major League Baseball history, end up with the Los Angeles Dodgers?
Ohtani is arguably the hottest commodity in Major League Baseball. One of the best two-way stars in Nippon Professional Baseball, Ohtani signed with the Angels in 2018 and had a successful rookie season, winning the American League Rookie of the Year award.
After undergoing Tommy John surgery (elbow ligament splicing) in his rookie year, Ohtani struggled a bit in subsequent years. But he bounced back in 2021, batting .257 (138-for-537) with 46 homers, 100 RBIs and a .965 OPS in 155 games and going 9-2 with a 3.18 ERA in 23 starts (130⅓ innings) on the mound, earning unanimous American League MVP honors and his first career MVP award.
Ohtani also had a stellar year last year, batting .275 (160-for-586) with 34 home runs and 95 RBIs for an .875 OPS in 157 games as a hitter and 15-9 with a 2.33 ERA in 28 games (166 innings) as a pitcher. However, Aaron Judge (Yankees) broke the American League home run record with 62 home runs to take home the MVP honors, while Ohtani finished second in MVP voting.굿모닝토토 도메인
After failing to win MVP honors for the second straight year, Ohtani was once again a unanimous MVP winner this year, batting .340 (151-for-497) with 44 home runs, 95 RBIs and a 1.066 OPS in 135 games and going 10-5 with a 3.14 ERA in 23 games (132 innings) as a pitcher. Ohtani is the first Asian player in Major League Baseball history to win the MVP award more than once. He is also the first player in Major League Baseball history to win two unanimous MVP awards.
One of the biggest free agents this winter, Ohtani underwent elbow surgery in September and will likely be unable to pitch next year, but he is still a lock for a mega-contract worth more than $500 million. While many teams are in the market for Ohtani, not many can afford a $500 million contract.
What’s more, Ohtani is unlikely to decide where to play simply based on the size of the contract. As Japanese media outlet Sponichi Annex reported on April 22, “In the free agency market, the size of the contract usually reveals the prospective clubs. However, it is widely believed that this time is different. Unlike in the winter of 2017, when he was on his way to the major leagues, the location of the club, the West Coast, doesn’t seem to matter this time,” and predicted that Ohtani will consider other factors besides the contract amount when deciding where to play next year.
“I feel that what he wants is to be the greatest player of all time, but he won’t say it publicly because he’s very humble,” said Nuba, who led Japan to the WBC title in March with Ohtani. “In a free agency market that is expected to be the biggest ever, it’s not the money that Ohtani is looking for. It’s an environment where he can be the best player ever. When you’re the best you’ve ever been, the money will follow,” and predicted that Ohtani will eventually land on a team where he can fulfill his dream of winning a World Series.
Currently, the most likely destination for Ohtani is the Dodgers. As the most financially solid team in the majors, the Dodgers have refrained from signing big free agents in recent years to ensure they have plenty of payroll. The Dodgers have also made the postseason for 11 straight years, from 2013 to this year. Furthermore, Los Angeles, where the Dodgers are based, is near Anaheim, where Ohtani played for the Angels.
According to MLB.com, “It’s not surprising (Ohtani going to the Dodgers) at all. The Dodgers didn’t pursue most of their free agents last winter, so it makes sense that they would target Ohtani. The Dodgers are considered the favorite to land the two-hit superstar, who is not expected to pitch next year due to Tommy John surgery.”
“The Dodgers love Yoshinobu Yamamoto, and they’re one of the teams that’s really thinking, ‘Maybe we can get both Yamamoto and Ohtani,'” New York Post reporter John Heyman said on MLB Network, predicting that the Dodgers could make a run at both Ohtani and Yamamoto.
“It would take more than $700 million to acquire both Ohtani and Yamamoto,” MLB.com predicted. If the Dodgers can afford to spend more than $700 million, money shouldn’t be an issue in acquiring Ohtani, and if the Dodgers have to choose between Ohtani and Yamamoto, they’ll likely choose Ohtani. In many ways, the Dodgers are the closest team to signing Ohtani right now.