LOS ANGELES — The anticipation is over. Shohei Ohtani’s hunt for his next team ended just across town with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The most awaited free-agent signing in MLB history was announced on Instagram Saturday morning. Ohtani’s new contract is set for 10 years at a historic $700 million, his CAA agent Nez Balelo revealed.
“To all the fans and everyone involved in the baseball world, I apologize for taking so long to come to a decision,” Ohtani wrote on Instagram. “I have decided to choose the Dodgers as my next team.”
The Dodgers confirmed the signing on Monday and issues a press release with Ohtani stating, “Dodger fans, thank you for welcoming me to your team. I can say 100 percent that you, the Dodger organization and I share the same goal – to bring World Series parades to the streets of Los Angeles.”
Mark Walter, Chairman of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Guggenheim Baseball, released the following statement: “On behalf of the L.A. Dodgers and our fans everywhere, we welcome Shohei Ohtani to the Dodgers, the home of Jackie Robinson, Sandy Koufax and Hideo Nomo, three of the sport’s most legendary and pathbreaking players. We congratulate him on his historic contract with our storied franchise. Shohei is a once-in-a-generation talent and one of the most exciting professional athletes in the world. Our players, staff, management and ownership look forward to working together with Shohei to help the Dodgers continue to add, improve and strive for excellence on the field. Together with Shohei, we will work to help grow the number and breadth of people around the world who enjoy the excitement of Major League Baseball.”
The announcement ends the two-time American League MVP winner’s six-year run in Anaheim with the Los Angeles Angels.
Ohtani’s tenure with the Halos most recently ended with record-breaking 1.066 OPS, 95 RBIs, 102 runs and 20 steals. The 29-year-old also posted a 3.14 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP with 167 strikeouts in 132 innings from the mound.
He capped the season from the dugout after undergoing surgery in September for a tear in his UCL. With his recovery rate, he is expected to be limited to designated hitting next year with the Dodgers and most likely will not pitch until 2025.
Ohtani shocked the league when he signed with the Angels as an international free agent in 2018. Despite undergoing his first Tommy John surgery in his AL Rookie of the Year-winning campaign, he finished with an .844 OPS and 40 home runs in 210 games through his first two seasons.
In 2020 Ohtani’s season was once again shortened due to the Covid-19 pandemic. He only marked two starts that year before suffering a flexor strain in his right forearm.
These trials and tribulations all before a breakout 2021 season.
The phenom captured the attention from people all over the sports world, claiming his first AL MVP unanimously with 46 home runs posted on the year. He paired that success with a .965 OPS and a 3.18 ERA, as well as 16 strikeouts from the mound.
In 2022 his pitching numbers only climbed, reaching a 2.33 ERA with 219 strikeouts across 166 innings. He also added a whopping 34 homers and a .875 OPS from the plate.
Despite the numbers, Ohtani has yet to reach a postseason game in all of his six seasons with the Angels. This new signing will provide the chance to flip that script.
Ohtani is set to make his Dodger debut March 20 and 21 for a two-game series against the San Diego Padres. As for his previous club, Ohtani will face the Angels twice next season. First at Dodger Stadium on June 21 and 22 then at Angel Stadium Sept. 3 and 4.