Whenever a high-profile athlete makes a decision in free agency, the first question people ask is “why?”
That’s no different for Shohei Ohtani. The two-way superstar had plenty of potential suitors, with the biggest clubs from around the league lining up to make their pitch to the Japanese phenom. The Dodgers ended up winning the Ohtani sweepstakes, signing the pitcher/designated hitter to a 10-year, $ 700 million.
So did Ohtani sign for the money? Duh. Would you say no to $ 700 million?
But money was not the final factor. The Giants reportedly presented a “similar” offer to Ohtani, leaving the free agent to make a tough decision. Ultimately, he went with the Dodgers, joining a team filled with superstar power, including Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman.
Los Angeles got their first chance to see Ohtani sporting the Dodger blue and white at Thursday’s press conference.
Your first look at Shohei Ohtani in a Dodgers jersey! 🤩 pic.twitter.com/5O0xSSH1OK
— MLB (@MLB) December 14, 2023
It was the first time that Ohtani got the chance to discuss his free agency and the decision to ultimately ink a deal with the NL West powerhouse.
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Here is more on why Ohtani signed with the Dodgers:
Why did Shohei Ohtani sign with Dodgers?
For the first time since the signing was announced, Ohtani got the opportunity to explain the decision behind signing with the Dodgers.
The two-way phenom didn’t dive into too many details, stating there were “a lot of reasons” why he ultimately chose Los Angeles. However, Ohtani did mention one thing behind his motivation — winning.
Shohei Ohtani on his decision to join the Los Angeles Dodgers. pic.twitter.com/K74181NvZI
— SportsNet LA (@SportsNetLA) December 14, 2023
“I do prioritize winning,” Ohtani said. “That’s at the top of my list.”
Based on that mindset, it’s easy to see why Ohtani viewed the Dodgers as an ideal landing spot. Los Angeles has made the playoffs 11 years in a row, winning the National League three times in the span and earning a World Series in 2020.
Despite this success, Ohtani said that during his meetings with the Dodgers, the ownership group expressed their disappointment for how the last decade has turned out. While the club has frequented the postseason, a World Series during the shortened COVID-19 season is all the Dodgers have to show.
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That’s when it clicked for Ohtani.
“When I had the meeting with the Dodgers, the ownership group they said when they look back at the last 10 years,” Ohtani said. “They looked at it as a failure, and when I heard that I knew they were all about winning.
“They share the same passion with me, a vision and history about winning.”
Ohtani also discussed the passion behind the Dodgers fan base. When talking about his time with the Angels, Ohtani pointed out that we could see fans of their crosstown rivals even at Angel Stadium.
“Even when I was playing with the Angels, half the stadium was blue,” Ohtani said. “I know they have very passionate fans.”
A massive paycheck, the opportunity to stay in the same area with a large population of Asian-Americans, and one of the most successful franchises in MLB history? Love it or hate it, it’s pretty easy to understand how Ohtani ended up choosing the Dodgers.