Analysis, reaction, and details on Shohei Ohtani signing with the Dodgers

Hey! In case you missed it, I have great news for you, Shohei Ohtani is now a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers thanks to a record 10-year, $700 million pact.

As you can imagine, people had thoughts about that, so there’s no shortage of reading material even in the immediate aftermath, much less the years to come.


Sports Illustrated: I assume Tom Verducci is not AI, but regardless, he has the best insight into how the deal went down.

On Friday, reports broke that Ohtani’s signing was imminent and that he was headed to Toronto to sign with the Blue Jays. The report was completely erroneous. The Dodgers didn’t know that. They held meetings Friday night with an air of worry. The rumors were likely false, they decided, but they still created angst among the Los Angeles executives.
“You just don’t know,” says one of the Dodger executives when asked about the Friday night meeting. “That’s the best way to describe it. We just didn’t know. It was not a comfortable feeling.”

It also talked about why the Dodgers got to the point of wanting him at whatever cost, and how the business side of things were totally fine with said cost being whatever.

As much as the Dodgers coveted Ohtani the player, they fell in love with Ohtani the person when he visited Dodger Stadium last week. Besides asking about the minor league system, Ohtani talked about how much he loves baseball and he talked about his dog. At one point, according to a source, he even remarked how the money that was in play “was laughable to even think about.” As colleagues say, Ohtani has two pastimes: playing baseball and training for baseball.
“We were blown away,” says one Dodgers executive. “It was refreshing. He seems even younger than his age because he has this youthful love for the game. We wanted to know what motivates him and it was just so simple: to play baseball. Some guys want to come off as a CEO or a brand. Shohei was just so refreshing. I know we left that meeting feeling even better about signing him.”

The baseball ops people wanted Ohtani for his bat, knowing his pitching career may or may not resume at an elite level in 2025 when he is recovered from a second Tommy John surgery. The business side never blinked. Even though the Dodgers nearly max out on ticket sales, which blunts his effect at the gate, the team knows Ohtani is the only baseball player with an international brand. Mark Walter, owner and chairman, did not have to be convinced. He was all in. Walter’s various businesses, including media, entertainment and financial services, include footholds in Japan.
“He sees the economic impact,” says a Dodgers source. “The Dodgers are an international brand. Put it this way, the brand is bigger today than it was yesterday.”

Wall Street Journal: Jared Diamond wrote about the infamous plane saga, talking to businessman Robert Herjavec about being mistaken for Shohei.

“They didn’t even look at my passport,” Herjavec said. “They were so disappointed about who was on the plane. They’re like, ‘Oh, welcome home sir,’ and that was it.”

At one point, he said, the captain announced that the flight he was on was the most tracked in the world. Only partially paying attention, Herjavec said he thought it had something to do with Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite internet system, which he is soon installing on his plane.
“I land, and there’s reporters, crowds, police, helicopters, and I’m like, ‘What the hell is going on?’” Herjavec said.


The Athletic: Fabian Ardaya delivers a profile of Ohtani, looking at just who the Dodgers are getting.

“They want the learning, they want the struggle, and then they want the achievement,” Eppler once said of people wired like Ohtani. “I think he tackles his profession that way. He wants to learn new things. He wants to continually grow. He wants mastery, and he’s going to stop at nothing — nothing’s going to get in his way until he reaches the point of mastering his game.”

Los Angeles Times: Dylan Hernandez opines that Ohtani’s choice is one that prioritizes his legacy in the game.

The best player in baseball will spend the next decade playing important games for one of the sport’s signature franchises. Ohtani wins. The Dodgers win. Baseball wins. About the only losers here are the Angels, but what’s new about that?
Ohtani has been defined by resisting convention. His sudden openness to embracing a more common line of thinking will elevate him further, perhaps even offer him the chance to be the face of baseball not only of this time but of any time.

FOX Sports: Deesha Thosar wrote about the changes Ohtani will have to deal with by going from the Angels to the Dodgers.

In Anaheim, Ohtani got away with regularly hiding from the gaggle of reporters that showed up daily to cover him. The bigger the news — like when he tore his UCL near the end of the 2023 season — the more unavailable he would be. The Angels’ PR team, coaches, front office, and Ohtani’s representatives aided his goal of operating in isolation by either speaking for him, allowing him time and space to hide within a ballpark, or cross-checking reporters’ questions before his already infrequent availability. That’s not going to fly now that he’s legitimately in the nation’s second-biggest market.
So, if Ohtani didn’t care for all the hullabaloo in the first place, accepting a contract with the Dodgers might just force his hand. With the commotion he’ll cause in Hollywood, it will be more difficult than ever for the humble Japanese superstar to stay out of the spotlight. The media contingent that covers the Dodgers is markedly bigger, and will only grow with Ohtani on board. The Dodgers’ fan base is exponentially larger, more passionate and more critical. Dodger Stadium will need to build an auxiliary press box just to accommodate a portion of the media frenzy he’ll create.


Los Angeles Times: Bill Shaikin says the move signals that the Dodgers’ window for winning never closes.

The playoffs have not been kind to the Dodgers. But the Dodgers will be in the playoffs and, for the first time in his major league career, Ohtani will be playing for something.

The Athletic: Ken Rosenthal writes about how the contract is a sign that baseball as a sport is healthy.

It would be difficult for anyone to argue baseball is broken. If anything, baseball appears headed for a renaissance. And Shohei Ohtani, the sport’s biggest star and most transcendent figure, is the reason the game is creating more buzz than at any point in recent years, and maybe decades.

Los Angeles Times: Jorge Castillo with a story on how Ohtani’s decision impacts a whole gaggle of Japanese reporters whose job is to follow him.

ESPN: Speaking of Japan, his many fans there are thrilled with the news.


Los Angeles Times: While Jeff Passan has already done a brief explainer on how Ohtani’s $700 million won’t really be $700 million to the Dodgers with regards to the luxury tax, Jack Harris reports on how the deferrals also mean Ohtani probably took a discount in the end.

The MLBPA will calculate the present-day value of Ohtani’s contract, which was negotiated by Nez Balelo of CAA Sports, once it is finalized. But based on the public information available Saturday night, some rival agents estimated the present-day value could end up being in the $450-million to $500-million range, if not lower, depending on the length of the deferrals and interest rate used in the calculation.

Some agents also felt Ohtani might have essentially left money on the table by taking the Dodgers’ deferral-laden deal, possibly as much as nine figures if counting by present-day value.
That’s because, while other teams’ offers weren’t publicly known Saturday night, there was widespread belief that bidding for Ohtani could reach the $500-million to $600-million range.
In other words, given the amount of deferrals in the Dodgers’ deal, rival clubs could have presented economic packages that were in some ways on par with L.A.’s, even if they didn’t directly match the $700-million guarantee.

The Athletic: As far as the contract making business sense for the Dodgers, Sam Blum and Ardaya look into the probable financial windfall that’s about to hit the team, which should alleviate concerns about the risk associated with the commitment to Ohtani.

“It’ll pay for itself within six or seven years,” said one MLB evaluator. “He’s literally just a money factory. Even just on advertising alone. All the eyeballs from Japan. He’s like Michael Jordan to them. He’s like Taylor Swift.”
Ohtani’s presence instantly makes his team more internationally relevant. Every game will be broadcast live in Japan. And Japanese advertising made up a significant portion of the Angels’ stadium signage in recent years. His jersey was the most popular in the game. And fans traveled from half a world away to see him.
Simply put, the risk of this expensive contract is minimized by a guaranteed revenue stream that exists by having Ohtani on the roster.


Baseball Prospectus: Ginny Searle delivered probably the most comprehensive look at the signing.

It’s the Dodgers, more than any other team and now more than ever, that each year present to their faithful the hope of something better than ever, or never before accomplished. Despite their boundless regular-season success, they continue to make aggressive additions at the deadline—Yu Darvish, Manny Machado, Trea Turner, Max Scherzer, just in this era—in hopes of finally nailing the alchemical process that makes a champion. The aura that surrounds a team’s heroes isn’t just cheap mythmaking; it’s a vital connection between the sport and its audience, providing a sense of meaning. Shohei Ohtani, for all the ways his person and talents can be dissected and his contributions microscoped, is the player of whom anyone who roots for baseball dreams. He appears affable and charming, possesses the sort of talent and force of will about which people have for centuries composed epics, and can do things on the baseball field no one else can, that perhaps no one else ever will. He makes the Dodgers not just a team to always watch, but always the team to watch. It’s hard to put a price on that. But $700 million is as good as any.

FanGraphs: Michael Baumann essentially says that despite concerns about his right arm, the signing makes sense for the Dodgers (and might even be a bargain).

But the nice thing about a 10-year contract is it gives Ohtani plenty of time to heal. And when he does, well, he’s the answer to a question that’s troubled humanity for decades: What would it be like if Spencer Strider were growing out of Corey Seager’s torso like Kuato from Total Recall? It turns out such a player is worth $70 million a year, minus some deferred money.

The Ringer: Ben Lindbergh thinks the move made all the sense in the world for Ohtani as well.

With the Angels, Ohtani wasn’t much of a threat to opposing fans, who could enjoy his excellence without being bitter that he’d beaten their teams; despite his best efforts, the Angels usually lost. (RIP, Tungsten Arm O’Doyle.) Maybe he won’t be as widely beloved now that he’s richer than Robert Herjavec and taking his talents to a deep-pocketed, perennial contender. But for Ohtani to burnish his legend, he had to lose his halo. Joining the Dodgers will all but ensure he’ll check off the one accomplishment he couldn’t achieve on his own—qualifying for the postseason—while allowing MLB to maximize the PR potential of a once-in-a-century star. It should also give L.A. many more cracks at winning a title with more than a few fans in the stands. If that means spending $700 million or—almost as scary—making Max Muncy play third base, so be it.
Ohtani was already a peerless player. Now he has a contract and team to match.

The Athletic: Keith Law says the Dodgers are getting the most valuable player in the sport by whatever metric you want to use.

Ohtani’s 10-year, $700 million deal has some significant deferred money in it, so the AAV of $70 million isn’t quite an accurate rendering of how much he’s going to be paid … but that’s pedantic when it’s the largest contract guarantee to any professional athlete in any sport. He’s a unicorn, and the most valuable player in the sport, whether you’re talking about the postseason award of that name, sabermetric measures of value, or the total revenue he brings to his club just by virtue of being on the roster. It’s possible that $70 million a year isn’t enough to cover it, although I feel more comfortable saying that I just don’t know if he’s underpaid or not, and at least he’s getting paid something close to his actual value.

ESPN: David Schoenfield gives the Dodgers an ‘A’ for the move.

Before Ohtani, the most desirable free agent of all time was Alex Rodriguez, who was just 25 when the Rangers signed him ahead of the 2001 season to a then mind-blowing $252 million contract ($438 million in today’s dollars). The Rangers couldn’t build a team around him — A-Rod took up too much of the payroll — and after three seasons, they traded him to the Yankees.
That’s not going to happen with the Dodgers. This is an organization that has manifestly shown it knows how to keep the cycle of winning going. They just signed the best player in the sport to ensure that continues.

MLB: David Adler shows five ways (six, really) Ohtani got even better in his 2023 AL MVP season.

MLB: Adler also provides six ways Ohtani can get even better in the future, four as a hitter and two as a pitcher.


Finally, let’s conclude with some social media reactions to the move.


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About Chad Moriyama

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"A highly rational Internet troll." - Los Angeles Times