LOS ANGELES – Shohei Ohtani was taken aback by the size of the crowd at Dodger Stadium during his introductory press conference on Thursday. The two-way superstar, who just signed a record-breaking $700 million deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers, expressed his surprise, thinking it was only going to be a media event.
“It actually is only media,” Dodgers broadcaster Joe Davis clarified for him.
It’s a testament to Ohtani’s global appeal that such a gathering was assembled for his arrival. He’s now a Dodger for the next 10 seasons, boasting the richest contract in sports history.
“I can’t wait to join the Dodgers,” Ohtani said. “They share the same passion as me. They have vision and history all about winning, and I share the same values. I just can’t wait to join the team and get it going.”
During the press conference, Ohtani addressed various topics, including his recent elbow surgery, the structure of his contract, and even his dog’s name. While he didn’t specify the details of his elbow procedure, he emphasized it was different from his previous Tommy John surgery and that he’s recovering well.
However, the prevailing themes were Ohtani’s commitment to winning and his belief that the Dodgers offer the best opportunity for postseason success. Despite his individual accomplishments in MLB, he hasn’t had a taste of the playoffs or a winning season, making this move about chasing championships.
No. 17, Shohei Ohtani. pic.twitter.com/RQzsrnf3uv
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) December 14, 2023
Ultimately, Ohtani chose the Dodgers because he believes they are best positioned to build a winning roster around him. He sees them as perennial postseason contenders, having won the NL West 10 out of the last 11 years. His contract even includes an opt-out clause if key figures like chairman Mark Walter or president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman were to leave the team.
“I think the most important thing is everybody, from ownership all the way to the staff, we all are going to be on the same page,” said Ohtani. “We’re all going to be wanting to win, and I think that’s the most important thing, and I think this team has that.”
Moreover, Ohtani’s contract is structured with significant deferred payments, a concept he initiated. This arrangement allows the Dodgers to allocate more funds to strengthen the team and stay within competitive balance tax limits.
Shortly after the press conference, news broke of the Dodgers’ pending deal to acquire Tyler Glasnow, showing their commitment to building a competitive roster. Reports also mentioned Japanese right-hander Yoshinobu Yamamoto meeting with the club at Dodger Stadium, with Ohtani present to help convince him to join.
The Dodgers aim to become a top destination for baseball talent, and Ohtani’s presence is a significant draw for prospective players.
“Our goal is for the Dodgers organization to be a destination spot for everyone around the league,” emphasized Andrew Friedman.