The Los Angeles Dodgers’ pursuit of “the world’s best baseball player” Shohei Ohtani (29-LA Angels) is attracting attention.
“Ohtani, the world’s most popular baseball player, brought a large crowd and media to Dodger Stadium last weekend,” the Los Angeles Times reported on 10 October, adding that “this will be the last time he plays in Los Angeles this year, but the next time he appears, he could be part of the home team.” The Los Angeles Dodgers’ interest in Ohtani has been growing.
Ohtani went 4-for-7 with a home run and three RBIs in his only appearance at the plate in last weekend’s Freeway Series between the Los Angeles Angels and Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. The team lost both games, but Ohtani proved why he is an MVP candidate with a three-hit game in the final game of the first half, one hit shy of a cycling hit.
Despite being a member of the away team, Ohtani received a lot of hospitality from the Dodgers players and fans during the series. The hope is that he will choose the Dodgers when he becomes a free agent after this season and is expected to receive at least $500 million. The Dodgers are seen as the perfect destination for Ohtani, who wants to win and has been active in recruiting Asian baseball players and consistently challenged for championships. An unnamed LA Dodgers player was quoted as saying, “I know the team is making a huge offer to Ohtani,” leading to speculation of tampering (pre-contact).
The LA Times reported, “According to baseball insiders, the Los Angeles Dodgers are the front-runners in the race to sign Ohtani. The reasons are consistent. They have plenty of money, they’re consistently winning, the weather is nice, and (with both the Dodgers and Angels in California) Ohtani wouldn’t even have to move.”
Interest in Ohtani began in high school, and the Los Angeles Dodgers were serious enough to pursue Clayton Kershaw and Justin Turner, according to the Los Angeles Times, “The Los Angeles Dodgers’ top target this winter is no longer a secret. Ohtani is set to become the most coveted free agent and the Dodgers hope to land him. This isn’t the first time the Dodgers have tried to sign him.” The story goes on to reveal that the Dodgers have been trying to sign Ohtani for some time.카지노사이트
The Dodgers’ interest in Ohtani began when he was playing for Hanamaki Higashi High School. In the winter of 2012, Ohtani was favouring a major league challenge and hoped that the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) would not draft him. At the time, Ohtani’s favourite major league team was the Los Angeles Dodgers, according to the LA Times. Japanese scout Keiichi Kojima had been visiting him regularly and had developed a good relationship with him. At the end of 2012, the Dodgers had only $10,000 left on his international amateur contract and were planning to develop him as a pitcher only. The NPB’s Nippon Ham Fighters, on the other hand, were the only team to offer him a two-hitter, and he chose Nippon Ham.
The second opportunity came in the winter of 2017, when Ohtani declared his major league aspirations. By then, Ohtani had had a successful career in NPB as a two-hitter, leading his team to the Japan Series title and winning the Pacific League MVP award. Because of this, Ohtani wanted a two-hitter in the majors and demanded a presentation from all teams interested in signing him. The Los Angeles Dodgers sent general manager Dave Roberts and two of the team’s key two-hitters, Clayton Kershaw and Turner, to make the pitch, which Roberts said “we did everything we could to get him,” but once again, the two-hitter part of the deal fell through.
In 2017, the National League (NL) did not have a designated hitter system (it will be eliminated in the 2022 season), and the Los Angeles Dodgers offered Ohtani a spot in their six-man starting rotation and 300 to 400 plate appearances a year, with him pinch-hitting one day and playing corner outfield the next. But Ohtani wanted a designated hitter spot where he could focus entirely on his two-hitting duties, and National League teams, including the Los Angeles Dodgers, were out of options. As the LA Times put it, “Ohtani’s decision to go to the Angels came as a shock. The Angels hadn’t won a postseason game in nearly a decade, and they weren’t considered a strong contender. But he chose the Angels because they had a free agent for $2.35 million.”
Since then, Ohtani has been on a roll. He won the American League (AL) Rookie of the Year in 2018, and after three years of elbow ligament splicing surgery (Tommy John surgery) and adjustments, he won the MVP in 2021. Last year, he finished fourth in the Cy Young Award and second in the MVP voting, showing that he has the potential to be an S-calibre pitcher as well. Through the first half of 2023, his career stats were .272 (2327-for-633) with 159 home runs, 413 RBI, 389 runs scored, 77 doubles, a .359 on-base percentage, a .551 slugging percentage and a 0.910 OPS in 655 games as a hitter and a 35-18 record with a 3.04 ERA in 80 games and 573 strikeouts in 450 innings as a pitcher.
Both starting pitchers and designated hitters in Ohtani’s position are on one-year contracts, and the team’s total payroll can afford… All set to sign world’s best baseball playerShohei Ohtani runs out after a hit at Dodger Stadium. /AFPBBNews=News1
Ohtani is cruising to his second MVP award this season as he heads into free agency. In 89 games as a hitter, he’s batting .302 (103-for-341) with 32 home runs, 71 RBIs, 63 runs scored, 11 doubles, a .387 on-base percentage, a .663 slugging percentage and a 1.050 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage); as a pitcher, he’s 7-4 with a 3.32 ERA and 132 strikeouts in 100 1/3 innings.
As a hitter alone, he is a first-place MVP candidate, ranking at the top of every major offensive statistic: first in the AL in home runs, tied for second in RBIs, eighth in slugging percentage (second in the AL), first in on-base percentage, and first in OPS. Because of this, John Heyman of the New York Post wrote on social media, “Ohtani is probably the best player in baseball. The MVP race was over before the All-Star break. (Shohei Ohtani is the best baseball player, maybe ever. MVP race is over before the All-Star break. Case is really closed this time.)”.
The Los Angeles Angels, on the other hand, have plenty of room to manoeuvre, even with what is expected to be the highest-paid free agent in history. That’s because they’ve been doing the groundwork to land Ohtani. Last winter, the Angels signed Justin Turner (Boston Red Sox – 1+1 years, $21.7 million max), who wanted a multi-year deal to compete for the designated hitter spot, and J.D. Martinez (1 year, $10 million), who said he could sign a one-year deal without an extension. Similarly, they brought in Noah Syndergaard (one year, $13 million) as a free agent instead of pitchers Tyler Anderson (Los Angeles Angels-3 years, $39 million) and Andrew Heaney (Texas Rangers-2 years, $25 million), who wanted multi-year deals. This means that both the starting pitcher and designated hitter positions have been cleared for Ohtani.
Thanks to the short-term deals, both in terms of position and team payroll, the Dodgers’ 2024 team payroll will start at a minimum of $67 million. With next year’s Major League Baseball luxury tax threshold of $237 million, the Dodgers can afford Ohtani’s salary, which is expected to be at least $500 million. According to the LA Times, “Ohtani is likely to sign for more than $500 million, if not $600 million. He can make $50 million a season, and the Dodgers can afford his salary.”
But there are no guarantees. Five years ago, few expected the Angels to sign Ohtani, and every major league team with ties to his favoured coast was expected to make a run at him.