In a stunning turn of events, Shohei Ohtani, initially embroiled in rumors about a trip to Toronto, officially confirmed his signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday. Breaking the news on Instagram, the 29-year-old Japanese phenom announced a historic 10-year, $700 million deal with the Dodgers, making him not only the instant face of the franchise but also the highest-paid player in MLB history.
Expressing gratitude in his Instagram post, Ohtani apologized for the delay in making his decision and stated, “I have decided to choose the Dodgers as my next team.” This momentous deal surpasses the previous MLB record set by Mike Trout’s $426.5 million contract.
The magnitude of Ohtani’s contract also positions it as one of the largest in sports history, eclipsing reported figures for soccer stars like Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe. Notably, the majority of Ohtani’s earnings will be structured as “unprecedented” deferrals, a decision attributed to Ohtani himself. These deferrals, according to an anonymous source familiar with the contract, aim to provide tax benefits for Ohtani and alleviate potential payroll and luxury tax complications for the Dodgers.
With no opt-outs included in the agreement, Ohtani’s deal underscores a long-term commitment to the Dodgers. Despite being limited to designated-hitting duties next season due to his recent second Tommy John surgery, Ohtani is expected to significantly impact the team, transforming an already star-studded lineup that includes MVPs Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman.
Evan Phillips, Dodgers closer, expressed excitement about Ohtani’s signing, saying, “It’s unprecedented what we’ve seen Shohei do in years’ past. I think the earnings he’ll be able to bring the Dodgers off the field, his impact as a whole, is going to be record-setting.”
The Dodgers’ pursuit of Ohtani dates back to his high school days, and their admiration for his skillset has only grown over the years. Despite previous attempts to sign him, Ohtani chose to play in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball league and later joined the Angels in 2018. Now, after an impressive tenure as both a hitter and a pitcher, Ohtani joins the Dodgers as a transformative player and a key priority for the team.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, speaking at the winter meetings, had emphasized, “Clearly, Shohei is our top priority,” reflecting the organization’s unwavering commitment to securing the exceptional talent of Shohei Ohtani.