Salem Radio Network News Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Sports

Baseball-Two-way Japanese star Ohtani agrees to join Dodgers

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) -Japanese dual-threat superstar Shohei Ohtani, the most coveted Major League Baseball (MLB) free agent in recent memory, has agreed to join the Los Angeles Dodgers, he said on Saturday.

Terms of the deal for Ohtani, a marketing bonanza who spent the first six years of his MLB career with the Los Angeles Angels, were not disclosed but it was reportedly the largest in baseball history, worth more than $700 million over 10 years.

“I have decided to choose the Dodgers as my next team,” Ohtani wrote on Instagram.

Ohtani thanked the Angels fans and organization for six years that he said would be “etched in my heart forever”.

“And 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. 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.

“There are some things that cannot be conveyed in writing, so I would like to talk more about this again at a later press conference. Thank you very much.”

The Dodgers had been favoured to emerge as the winners of the Ohtani sweepstakes following a courtship which came down to a handful of teams that reportedly included the Angels, Chicago Cubs and Toronto Blue Jays.

Ohtani, who has never appeared in an MLB playoff game, joins a Dodgers team who followed their 2020 World Series triumph with three straight 100-win seasons that ended in a postseason flop, including getting swept 3-0 by the Arizona Diamondbacks in this year’s National League Division Series.

Ohtani, who has thrived as a right-handed ace pitcher and left-handed slugger, was named the unanimous winner of the American League MVP award last month despite suffering injuries that cut short his 2023 season. He is the first player to win the award unanimously more than once, having also done so in 2021.

The 29-year-old, who is often compared to MLB great Babe Ruth because of his ability to pitch and hit at an elite level, produced an AL-leading 44 home runs, with 20 stolen bases and 95 RBIs with the Los Angeles Angels in 2023.

In 23 starts on the mound, Ohtani had a 3.14 ERA with 167 strikeouts, though his pitching season was cut short in August due to a torn ligament in his right elbow. A subsequent side strain ended his season entirely in September.

Ohtani, a three-time MLB All-Star is expected to be able to hit without restrictions next season and to pitch again in 2025.

(Reporting by Frank Pingue, Additional reporting by Rory Carroll; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Clare Fallon)

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