The Shohei Ohtani Era is over in Anaheim but moving only about 30 miles north up I-5 in Los Angeles as the two-time American League MVP has left the Angels and agreed to a reported 10-year, $700 million deal with the Dodgers, who were the betting favorites all along to sign the Japanese dual threat – although he will not pitch in 2024 off another major arm surgery. Needless to say, MLB futures shifted but not nearly as much as if Ohtani would have signed to play in Toronto, San Francisco or the North Side of Chicago. The SportsLine Projection Model obviously upgrades LA across the board (see below).
Before this news, DraftKings had the Braves as +340 favorites to win the NL pennant and the Dodgers +400. For the World Series, they were both +700 favorites. Now, Los Angeles is the leader in both at +300 and +550, respectively. On Friday when it looked like the Blue Jays might get Ohtani, they had slipped into a World Series-favored role at DK.
A handful of players have won at least two MVP Awards like Ohtani has, but he's the first to win multiple by unanimous votes, doing so in 2021 and 2023. He led the AL this year in home runs (44), OPS (1.066) and extra-base hits as a hitter and in opponents' batting average (.184) as a starting pitcher. He also had the AL's second-best strikeouts per nine innings ration of 11.4. Ohtani led the majors in Wins Above Replacement (10.0), becoming the fifth player in the since 1961 to finish in the top two in WAR in three straight seasons alongside legends Albert Pujols, Barry Bonds, Bob Gibson and Willie Mays. The 29-year-old's 28.5 WAR over the past three seasons easily leads the majors.
Ohtani, who had surgery on his right elbow for a torn UCL in September, becomes the fifth player in MLB history to switch teams the season after being named MVP. The most recent was Giancarlo Stanton in 2017, who was traded from the Marlins to the Yankees. Only the legendary Frank Robinson has won MVP in both the American and National League, and the Dodgers now have two players who could join him in Ohtani and 2018 AL MVP Mookie Betts.
The sportsbooks haven't put out individual award props yet in large part due to Ohtani's free agency, as he would be a favorite in either league for MVP. Ohtani had been a +1100 sixth-favorite to lead the majors in home runs next season at DraftKings behind Aaron Judge (+350), Matt Olson (+600), Pete Alonso (+700), Kyle Schwarber (+750) and new Yankee Juan Soto (+1000). I see no reason why that would change. Ditto on Ohtani to lead the majors in RBI at +2000.
While Ohtani reportedly was very comfortable with the Angels and the complete autonomy they gave him, they simply aren't a winning franchise right now (and aren't particularly close to being one), and Ohtani wants to win. The Dodgers are the model franchise in the sport with 11 straight postseason berths, but have just one World Series title in that span. There was some speculation that manger Dave Roberts was on the hot seat after a stunning NLDS sweep at the hands of Arizona this past season, but he's back. Expectations are now higher than ever, so one could argue Roberts enters on the hottest seat in the majors -- unless Ohtani picked the Dodgers because of him, of course.
The Los Angeles lineup could now be truly historic, with Ohtani and Betts expected to go 1-2 in whichever order and 2020 NL MVP Freddie Freeman hitting third. Expect to see a lot of openers face the Dodgers just to get through that trio and save the starting pitcher.
Ohtani's first regular-season game with his new team will not be in the United States, however, as the Dodgers and Padres will open on March 20 at 6:05 a.m. ET in Seoul, South Korea. They play two games there before the official MLB Opening Day on March 28, with the Dodgers hosting the Cardinals.
Where does Ohtani's contract rank in history? Soccer icon Lionel Messi had held the all-time world record with the $674 million deal he signed with Barcelona in 2017. Ohtani's former Angels teammate Mike Trout had the largest contract in MLB history at $426.5 million, signing a 12-year extension with the team in 2019. Judge had signed the largest free-agent contract at $360 million last year with the Yankees.
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