Generational star Shohei Ohtani signed the biggest free agent deal in baseball history as he’s agreed to play next season with the Los Angeles Dodgers, he posted on his Instagram Saturday.
“To all the fans and everyone involved in the baseball world, I apologize for taking so long to come to a decision. I have decided to choose the Dodgers as my next team,” Ohtani wrote Saturday.
The 10-year, $700 million signing is the most lucrative contract the sport has ever seen, topping Mike Trout’s 12-year, $426.5 million agreement with the Los Angeles Angels, Aaron Judge’s nine-year, $360 million pact with the New York Yankees and Bryce Harper’s 13-season, $330 million agreement with the Philadelphia Phillies.
The contract is contingent on a physical, which would have been a completely routine act in past years. It’s now considered an important box to check, given the money involved and last winter’s drama with shortstop Carlos Correa, who appeared to have inked lucrative agreements with the New York Mets and San Francisco Giants before doctor’s reports scuttled those contracts.
The soon-to-be former Los Angeles Angels star had played six seasons in Anaheim and five previous campaigns with the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters back in his native Japan.
“The six years I spent with the Angles will remain etched in my heart forever,” he said on Instagram.
The Dodgers doled out record money for the incredibly unique skill set Ohtani, a two-time American League MVP, has brought to North American baseball diamonds.
“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,” Ohtani wrote on Instagram. “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.”
For almost the entire history of professional baseball, players have fallen into two distinct categories: pitchers who specialize in throwing balls from a distance of 60 feet and 6 inches; and batters dedicated to hitting those pitches, which regularly travel between 90 mph and 100 mph.
The 29-year-old Ohtani has shattered that mold, performing as a high-level two-way player in a manner not seen since all-time great Babe Ruth was a dominant pitcher for the Boston Red Sox more than 100 years ago.
But even Ruth gave up pitching to concentrate on becoming one of the greatest home run hitters in the game’s history.
Ohtani tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow late this past season, forcing him off the mound in 2024. He’ll still hit in 2024 before going back to his two-way play in 2025.
This past year, despite his pitching season ending early due to that injury, Ohtani still won his second AL MVP, both in unanimous votes. Ohtani would likely have been a three-time MVP if not for Judge hitting 62 homers in 2022, the most by any player outside the steroid-tainted late 1990s and early 2000s.
With the bat this past season, Ohtani hit 44 home runs and registered a 1.066 on-base percentage plus slugging percentage (OPS), the most popular modern measure for batters. Both figures were highest in the American League.
On the mound, Ohtani started 23 games and had an earned-run average of 3.14. The Angels went 14-9 (.608) in Ohtani’s starts on the mound and 59-80 (.424) in their other 139 games.