Los Angeles Dodgers Sign Shohei Ohtani To Record-Breaking Contract

The Los Angeles Dodgers announced the signing of Shohei Ohtani to a 10-year contract worth $700 million. Ohtani revelead his decision to sign with the Dodgers on Instagram to cap off the most-speculated and awaited free agency decision in MLB history.

Ohtani’s contract represents the largest in the history of professional sports, passing Lionel Messi’s four-year, $674 million deal he signed with FC Barcelona in 2017. The deal also blows away what had been the richest MLB contract of $426.5 million, which was signed by Mike Trout with the Los Angeles Angels.

“Dodger fans, thank you for welcoming me to your team,” Ohtani said. “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.”

Despite the contract’s significant figure, the deal is reportedly worth less in total value due to most of the money being deferred, which was Ohtani’s idea.

The deferrals decrease the number Ohtani’s salary will count against the luxury tax threshold from $70 million average annual value (AAV) to an estimated $50 million. It also frees up cash flow for the Dodgers so they can continue adding pieces to improve their roster with respect to the competitive balance tax (CBT).

In addition, the $700 million will also decrease in value over time due to inflation.

“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,” said Mark Walter, chairman of the Dodgers and Guggenheim Baseball.

“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.”

Ohtani’s contract represents his talent on the field, but also status as an international superstar. He will provide the Dodgers organization with tremendous financial opportunities through marketing, sponsorships and merchandise sales due to his immense popularity among fans both domestic and international.

On the field, Ohtani is a unicorn. A talent unlike anything baseball has ever seen, perhaps even the most talented athlete in sports history. Ohtani is one of the best hitters in baseball, and he’s also one of the best pitchers in the sport, all while combining that with elite speed.

Ohtani is the only player in any sport with two unanimous MVP Awards, one of which came this past season when he hit .304/.412/.654 with 26 doubles, eight triples, 44 home runs, 95 RBI and 20 stolen bases in 599 plate appearances across 135 games.

Prior to being shut down from pitching, Ohtani went 10-5 with a 3.14 ERA, 4.00 FIP, 1.06 WHIP and 11.4 strikeouts per nine in 23 starts. Ohtani is not going to pitch in 2024 due to right elbow surgery, but the Dodgers are confident he will get back on the mound in 2025, providing the team with an ace for their staff.

Over his career, Ohtani has hit .274/.366/.556 with 171 home runs and 19.9 WAR. On the mound, he has pitched to a 3.01 ERA and 3.31 FIP while striking out 11.36 per nine and walking 3.23 per nine, totaling 11.8 WAR.

Ohtani made his Major League debut in 2018, starting as the designated hitter against the Oakland Athletics on March 29. He singled in his Major League debut while recording his first Major League victory on April 1 after tossing six innings against Oakland.

He would go on to win the American League Rookie of the Year as he finished his inaugural campaign with a .285 batting average, .361 OBP, .564 slugging percentage, .925 OPS, 22 homers and 61 RBI alongside a 4-2 record with a 3.31 ERA in 11 starts.

Prior to coming to the United States, the 6-foot-4 Ohtani led the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters to the 2016 Pacific League Championship in an MVP season, hitting .322 with a 1.004 OPS, 22 homers and 67 RBI while posting a 1.86 ERA with 174 strikeouts.

He made his professional debut at age 18 on March 29, 2013 and played five seasons in the Nippon Professional Baseball League, tallying 403 games, batting .286/.358/.501/.859 with 48 homers and 166 RBI at the plate and a 42-15 mark with a 2.52 ERA and 624 strikeouts in 543 innings on the mound.

Ohtani will be the 11th Japanese-born player to wear a Dodger uniform, joining Dodger Manager Dave Roberts (2002-2004), Hideo Nomo (1995-1998, 2002-2004), Masao Kida (2003-2004), Kazuhisa Ishii (2002-2004), Norihiro Nakamura (2005), Takashi Saito (2006-2008), Hiroki Kuroda (2008-2011), Kenta Maeda (2016-2019), Yu Darvish (2017) and Yoshi Tsutsugo (2021).

The Dodgers’ rich tradition with Japan began while the team was still in Brooklyn, with goodwill tours to the country that featured the likes of Hall of Famers Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Gil Hodges and Duke Snider. The Dodgers became the second team to introduce a Japanese-born player to the majors when Nomo broke through and went on to win the 1995 National League Rookie of the Year.

Originally born in Mizusawa, Oshu, Japan, Ohtani has played 11 professional seasons, receiving numerous accolades in his career, including Pacific League MVP (2016), American League MVP (2021, 2023), Nippon Professional Baseball League All-Star (2013-2017), American League All-Star (2021-2023), All-MLB First Team (2021-22), All-MLB Second Team (2021-2022), Pacific League Pitcher Best-Nine (2015-2016), Japan Professional Sports Grand Prize (2016, 2018), Louisville Silver Slugger (2021, 2023), Edgar Martinez Designated Hitter Award (2021-2023) and Japan Series Champion (2016).

Ohtani was the Dodgers’ top priority this offseason, and a player they have pursued signing going back to his time in high school, and again in 2017 when he came to MLB. At long last, Shohei Ohtani is a Dodger.

Dodgers cleared roster space to sign Shohei Ohtani

At the time of the reported agreement, the Dodgers had a full 40-man roster with Joe Kelly also waiting to make his new contract official.

To make room on the 40-man roster, the Dodgers swung a trade with the New York Yankees, sending Jorbit Vivas and Victor González in exchange for Trey Sweeney, a prospect who will not take up a spot on the roster, thus clearing two spots.

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