Tuesday, February 20, 2024
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Dodgers sign two-time MVP Shohei Ohtani

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Dodgers have signed two-time American League Most Valuable Player Shohei Ohtani to a 10-year contract.

Ohtani joins the Dodgers after spending six seasons with the Los Angeles Angels. The three-time All-Star has hit .274/.366/.556 (.922 OPS) with 171 homers and 437 RBI during his MLB career while posting a 38-19 record with a 3.01 ERA and 608 strikeouts in 481 2/3 innings across 86 career starts.

“Dodger fans, thank you for welcoming me to your team,” said Ohtani. “I can say 100 percent that you, the Dodger organization and I share the same goal – to bring World Series parades to the streets of Los Angeles.”

“On behalf of the L.A. Dodgers and our fans everywhere, we welcome Shohei Ohtani to the Dodgers, the home of Jackie Robinson, Sandy Koufax and Hideo Nomo, three of the sport’s most legendary and pathbreaking players. We congratulate him on his historic contract with our storied franchise,” said Mark Walter, Chairman of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Guggenheim Baseball. “Shohei is a once-in-a-generation talent and one of the most exciting professional athletes in the world. Our players, staff, management and ownership look forward to working together with Shohei to help the Dodgers continue to add, improve and strive for excellence on the field. Together with Shohei, we will work to help grow the number and breadth of people around the world who enjoy the excitement of Major League Baseball.”  

The 29-year-old Ohtani was voted the 2023 AL Most Valuable Player by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, winning the award unanimously for the second time in his career and becoming the first player in Major League Baseball history to win the award unanimously more than once. He is the 28th player in MLB history to win the award multiple times and the 16th player in American League history with multiple MVP awards. During his stellar 2023 campaign, Ohtani clubbed 44 homers and drove in 95 runs while hitting .304/.412/.654 (1.066 OPS) as well as going 10-5 with a 3.14 ERA and 167 strikeouts in 23 starts (132 innings) on the mound. In July, Ohtani was selected to his third consecutive All-Star Game as both a pitcher and position player. In addition to home runs, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS, Ohtani led the AL in extra-base hits (78) and total bases (325), while finishing second in intentional walks (21), third in triples (8), fourth in batting average (.304), tied for fourth in runs (102) and fifth in walks (91). He also led AL pitchers in opponents’ batting average (.184) while finishing second in strikeouts per nine innings (11.4).

The two-way player won his first career AL MVP award in 2021 after slashing .257/.372/.592 with 46 homers, 26 doubles, eight triples, 100 RBI, 103 runs and 26 stolen bases in 155 games and going 9-2 with a 3.18 ERA and 156 strikeouts in 130.1 innings (23 starts) on the mound. He became the first Japanese-born player to win the award since Ichiro Suzuki in 2001.

Ohtani also won the 2023 World Baseball Classic MVP award after leading Team Japan to the title. Ohtani batted .435 with a 1.345 OPS while going 2-0 on the mound with a 1.86 ERA, striking out Mike Trout of Team USA for the series-clinching out.

Ohtani made his Major League debut in 2018, starting as the designated hitter against the Oakland Athletics on March 29. He singled in his Major League debut while recording his first Major League victory on April 1 after tossing six innings against Oakland. He would go on to win the American League Rookie of the Year as he finished his inaugural campaign with a .285 batting average, .361 OBP, .564 slugging percentage, .925 OPS, 22 homers and 61 RBI alongside a 4-2 record with a 3.31 ERA in 11 starts.

Prior to coming to the United States, the 6-foot-4 Ohtani led the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters to the 2016 Pacific League Championship in an MVP season, hitting .322 with a 1.004 OPS, 22 homers and 67 RBI while posting a 1.86 ERA with 174 strikeouts. He made his professional debut at age 18 on March 29, 2013 and played five seasons in the Nippon Professional Baseball League, tallying 403 games, batting .286/.358/.501/.859 with 48 homers and 166 RBI at the plate and a 42-15 mark with a 2.52 ERA and 624 strikeouts in 543 innings on the mound.

Ohtani will be the 11th Japanese-born player to wear a Dodger uniform, joining Dodger Manager Dave Roberts (2002-2004), Hideo Nomo (1995-1998, 2002-2004), Masao Kida (2003-2004), Kazuhisa Ishii (2002-2004), Norihiro Nakamura (2005), Takashi Saito (2006-2008), Hiroki Kuroda (2008-2011), Kenta Maeda (2016-2019), Yu Darvish (2017) and Yoshi Tsutsugo (2021). The Dodgers’ rich tradition with Japan began while the team was still in Brooklyn, with goodwill tours to the country that featured the likes of Hall of Famers Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Gil Hodges and Duke Snider. The Dodgers became the second team to introduce a Japanese-born player to the majors when Nomo broke through and went on to win the 1995 National League Rookie of the Year.

Originally born in Mizusawa, Oshu, Japan, Ohtani has played 11 professional seasons, receiving numerous accolades in his career, including Pacific League MVP (2016), American League MVP (2021, 2023), Nippon Professional Baseball League All-Star (2013-2017), American League All-Star (2021-2023), All-MLB First Team (2021-22), All-MLB Second Team (2021-2022), Pacific League Pitcher Best-Nine (2015-2016),  Japan Professional Sports Grand Prize (2016, 2018), Louisville Silver Slugger (2021, 2023), Edgar Martinez Designated Hitter Award (2021-2023) and Japan Series Champion (2016).

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