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 a record-shattering $700 million, according to a statement issued by agent Nez Balelo. The Blue Jays, Giants and incumbent Angels were also in the mix for Ohtani, but the Dodgers were the frontrunners throughout his free agency.
The $700 million contract is. It bests Mike Trout's previous record for guaranteed money ($426.5 million) by $273.5 million.
"This is a unique, historic contract for a unique, historic player. Shohei is thrilled to be a part of the Dodgers organization," Balelo said in a statement. "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. We know fans, media and the entire industry had a high degree of interest in this process, and we want to express our appreciation for their passion and their consideration as it played out."
An unprecedented two-way talent, Ohtani, 29, 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.
Looking for more coverage? Check out the Fantasy Baseball Today emergency podcast after Ohtani made his decision:
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.