LOS ANGELES — It is what Dodger fans have been waiting to hear for what seems to be months now: Shohei Ohtani is a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers. After a disappointing end to the 2023 season, the front office did exactly what they set out to do around this time in 2022, and got the biggest free agent in the history of baseball.
A 10 year, $700 million contract makes this the biggest contract in North American sports history, with what many are calling “unprecedented” salary deferments. Essentially, Ohtani and his camp wanted to allow the Dodgers to maintain salary flexibility and remain active in free agency for years to come. This is a remarkable gesture from the biggest star in baseball, even with the $700 million deal guaranteed.
So, what does this mean for the city of Los Angeles, the Dodgers and the rest of the league?
Let’s dive into it:
A team that already employs Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman, along with many solid players around them just added Ohtani to the fray. This is undoubtedly the best lineup in all of baseball, and now solidifies a top three in the lineup of Mookie Betts, Shohei Ohtani, and Freddie Freeman back-to-back-to-back.
Ohtani is the two-time reigning American League MVP and even though he will not pitch for the entirety of the 2024 season, his offensive ability alone makes the Dodgers dangerous. He hit .304 with a .412 OBP and a 1.066 OPS in 2023 to go along with 44 home runs and 95 RBI. His dynamic offensive game brings speed on the basepaths and power at the plate for a Dodger team that lacked both in the playoffs. This is a seamless fit regardless of his pitching ability.
Of course Shohei Ohtani has been in Southern California for years now, but this is just different. Los Angeles is usually at the center of the sports world and at the forefront of free agency in every sport. The Rams go all in to get stars, the Lakers often get big time players, and the Dodgers sign many high profile stars. The city now employs LeBron James, one of the greatest basketball players ever, and Shohei Ohtani, one of the greatest baseball players ever. Not to mention, Anthony Davis, Mookie Betts, Matthew Stafford, Freddie Freeman, Aaron Donald, Justin Herbert, Kawhi Leonard, James Harden, Russell Westbrook and Paul George. A mouthful I know, but it just goes to show that greatness usually passes through Los Angeles.
This also brings the Japanese media and marketing to the city and organization as well, which is an underrated aspect to this situation. Many have estimated that the Japanese media brings around $100 million in revenue and advertising, which also helps the Dodgers organization make that contract a bit more easy to swallow.
Many will disagree, but Ohtani on the Dodgers is good for the baseball aspect of this situation. Shohei had never been to the playoffs in his many years as an Angel, and now he will be playing on one of the best teams in baseball, with one of the largest fan bases in the world on a team that goes to the playoffs every year. Even in a year where the Dodgers were supposed to be rebuilding, they won 100 games and won their division. Although they were knocked out in the first round, Ohtani is playing with great players in a great organization where many people will have eyes on him.
The league will now feature Ohtani on one of the most storeid franchises in sports to face the likes of the Yankees with Aaron Judge and Juan Soto, the Rangers with Corey Seager and Marcus Semien, the Padres with Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr. and the Braves with Ronald Acuña Jr. and Matt OIson. The league is now as talented as ever with stars in many big markets, who will now face each other multiple times per season. For the next 10 years, the Dodgers will be in the limelight and favorites to win the World Series with Ohtani, but now it is time to put words and hypotheticals into action and win a championship for the city of Los Angeles. Without that, this will be seen as a failure, but at least now the Dodgers have a team worthy of a dynasty…