Shohei Ohtani is joining the Los Angeles Dodgers. MLB’s most talented player and sought-after free agent announced his decision on Instagram on Saturday. Ohtani’s contract is for 10 years and $700 million, according to a statement issued by agent Nez Balelo.
Here’s that statement in whole, courtesy of Baseball America’s JJ Cooper.
Ohtani, the easy No. 1 choice in our free agent rankings, is not only one of the best players in Major League Baseball but also the most popular and marketable baseball star in the world.
Ohtani and his camp have stayed quiet throughout his free agency process. The Dodgers were considered the frontrunners to land him for months, however, and manager Dave Roberts confirmed the sides had a meeting earlier in the week. The Blue Jays and Angels — where Ohtani spent the first six seasons of his MLB career — were also reportedly in the mix to sign him.
An unprecedented two-way talent, Ohtani shined as both a hitter and pitcher for the Angels in recent years. He will not pitch in the 2024 season, however, after undergoing elbow surgery in the fall. His spot at No. 1 in the free agent rankings was a no-brainer. Here’s part of our scouting report:
He’s ranked in the top 10 in both ERA+ and OPS+ since debuting, and along the way has single-handedly shifted the Overton Window on two-way players. It’s fair to wonder how his workload will change in the future — perhaps he someday shifts to a relief role? — but that’s the risk you gladly stomach when you’re blessed with the opportunity to sign the kind of anomaly who invokes references to Leon Day, Bullet Rogan, Martín Dihigo, and Babe Ruth.
Normally a frontline perfomer on the mound and at the plate, Ohtani will be limited to DH duty in 2024. While a full return to pitching won’t happen until 2025, he’ll be a middle-of-the-order force with the bat right from the jump. As a hitter over the last three seasons, Ohtani has slashed .277/.379/.585 (161 OPS+) while averaging 41 home runs, 86 walks, and more than 300 total bases per campaign. It’s all backed up by best-in-class indicators of batted-ball quality. All of that plus the fact that Ohtani is still on the right side of age 30 bode very well for the near- to mid-term future when it comes to his ability to remain one of the best pure hitters baseball.
As for his eventual return to the mound, the Japan native figures to get back to flashing elite velocity and swing-and-miss stuff. Across 481 2/3 career innings on an MLB mound, he’s logged 608 strikeouts and put up an ERA+ of 142. While the durability is of course not what you want from a true ace, Ohtani pitches like an ace when healthy.
This story was originally posted by CBS Sports on Dec. 9, 2023.