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[JAPAN SPORTS NOTEBOOK] Superstar Shohei Ohtani to Join the Dodgers

Two-time American League MVP Shohei Ohtani agrees to a 10-year, $700 million deal, the biggest contract in Major League Baseball history.



Shohei Ohtani
Shohei Ohtani led the American League in home runs (44) in the 2023 MLB season. (Jay Biggerstaff/USA TODAY SPORTS)

Read the full story on SportsLook - [JAPAN SPORTS NOTEBOOK] Superstar Shohei Ohtani to Join the Dodgers

Shohei Ohtani has decided to remain in Southern California. His new team: the Los Angeles Dodgers.

After six seasons with the Los Angeles Angels, Major League Baseball's most coveted free agent will join the Dodgers, moving from the American League to the National League in a blockbuster 10-year deal worth $700 million USD (¥101.4 billion JPY).

Nez Balelo, Ohtani's agent who announced the superstar's decision in a news release on Saturday, December 9, shared his perspective on the significance of the blockbuster deal.

"This is a unique, historic contract for a unique, historic player," Balelo, who works for CAA Sports, said in a statement. "Shohei is thrilled to be a part of the Dodgers organization. He is excited to begin this partnership, and he structured his contract to reflect a true commitment from both sides to long-term success. Shohei and I want to thank all the organizations that reached out to us for their interest and respect, especially the wonderful people we got to know even better as this process unfolded."

Shohei Ohtani
Shohei Ohtani in an October 2022 file photo. (KYODO)

A Message from Shohei Ohtani

The 29-year-old Ohtani announced his decision to join the Dodgers on Instagram around 5 AM JST on Sunday, December 10.

"To all the fans and everyone involved in the baseball world, I apologize for taking so long to come to a decision," Ohtani posted on his Instagram account.

"The six years I spent with the Angels will remain etched in my heart forever," he said. "And to all Dodgers fans, I pledge to always do what's best for the team and always continue to give it my all to be the best version of myself.

"Until the last day of my playing career, I want to continue to strive forward not only for the Dodgers but for the baseball world. There are some things that cannot be conveyed in writing, so I would like to talk more about this again at a later press conference."


The Dodgers Make a Pitch to Ohtani

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts met face-to-face with Ohtani at Dodger Stadium recently? Was it a big deal?

Roberts delivered the bombshell news at the MLB Winter Meetings on Tuesday, December 5.

"It was just a pleasure to get to spend some time with him," Roberts said, according to MLB.com.

The Okinawan-born skipper added, "Clearly, Shohei's our top priority."

What else did the Dodgers have in mind to entice Ohtani besides a winning tradition and a large paycheck?

Dodgers reliever Joe Kelly, who wears jersey No 17, was reportedly asked to give up his uniform number if the team signs Ohtani.

Ohtani has worn 17 on the back of his jersey for his entire MLB career.


Blue Jays Pursue Ohtani

Before Ohtani and his agent confirmed the Toronto Blue Jays were no longer in the running for the pride of Iwate Prefecture for the next decade, Canada's MLB team was viewed by many as the frontrunner. 

In addition, Toronto general manager Ross Atkins met with Ohtani at the club's spring training headquarters in Dunedin, Florida on Monday, December 3.

Several days passed without an official announcement. Which could have meant something ― or nothing.

Or as the Toronto Sun observed on Friday: "The good news for the Jays and their over-the-top excited fan base — such as it is, anyway — is that Ohtani reportedly has yet to publicly choose his suitor, that a decision appears imminent and that the Blue Jays remain a finalist and likely a favorite."


Continue reading the full story, which includes news items on tennis, golf, horse racing and more, on SportsLook.

Author: Ed Odeven

Find Ed on JAPAN Forward's dedicated website, SportsLook. Follow his [Japan Sports Notebook] on Sundays, [Odds and Evens] during the week, and X (formerly Twitter) @ed_odeven

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