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Shohei Ohtani’s contract, the Dodgers’ pursuit, and the impact in baseball

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MLB: All Star Game-National League at American League
“Rock, paper, scissors for who bats second?”
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If you are still trying to process the enormity of a $700 million contract, or the Dodgers adding the best player on the planet in Shohei Ohtani, it’s completely understandable. After all, that’s quite a sticker shock, even before knowing all the specific details once the 10-year deal is finalized.

There will be more to come in the following days on Shohei Ohtani choosing, for the first time, to play his home games in Los Angeles. But for now, please enjoy this sampling of various other stories about the Dodgers’ free agent splash cannonball.

Tom Verducci at Sports Illustrated provided a tick tock of the Dodgers’ pursuit of Ohtani, including a worrisome Friday night meeting after rumors of the Blue Jays swooping in.

“You just don’t know,” one Dodgers executive told Verducci. “That’s the best way to describe it. We just didn’t know. It was not a comfortable feeling.”

From Jeff Passan at ESPN:

To many, the decision seemed preordained: the best player going to the best organization. It was the fashion in which it happened — with a number, 700 million, far exceeding the highest expectations — that imbued it with the sort of oomph that accompanies Ohtani’s longest home runs and angriest fastballs. From L.A. to Tokyo, the fanciest athlete alive, the one who elevated what’s possible unlike anyone before him, secured a contract that matched his magnitude.

“The best baseball player in the world just joined the most successful franchise in the sport’s recent history,” wrote Andy McCullough at The Athletic. “No wonder Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was bursting at the seams last week at the Winter Meetings, incapable of lying when asked about meeting with Shohei Ohtani.”

Fabian Ardaya at The Athletic, who also covered Ohtani with the Angels earlier in his career, wrote about what makes the superstar tick. Says Ardaya: “To understand Shohei Ohtani is to understand obsession. To appreciate Shohei Ohtani is to understand the complexity behind each of his tasks and the ability to compartmentalize one from another.”

Dan Szymborski at FanGraphs offered his ZiPS projections for Ohtani over the next 10 years.

“But to just talk about him in baseball terms sort of misses the point. The Dodgers aren’t paying $700 million for a baseball player,” wrote Mike Petriello at MLB.com. “They’re paying that for a worldwide brand, for all of the advertising dollars that will flow towards baseball’s must-watch team, for how often the Dodgers will be seen on televisions across Japan for years to come, for how much this story transcends baseball, for how much other players may want to be on Team Shohei now.”

Michael Baumann at FanGraphs analyzed the deal: “The man who is two superstars in one is now getting paid like two superstars.”

“The modern baseball fan has been conditioned to believe that each team has a competitive window, that you can keep the core of a contending team together for only so long before the window inevitably closes,” wrote Bill Shaikin at the Los Angeles Times. “To that, Shohei Ohtani and the Dodgers are here to say ho, ho, ho to Dodgers fans and ha, ha, ha to the rest of the league.”

More details on Ohtani’s pact with Los Angeles, from Bill Plunkett at the Orange County Register and Alden González at ESPN.

Lindsey Adler at The Wall Street Journal wrote, “Ohtani is also an economy in and of himself. The Angels found themselves the beneficiaries of massive Japanese interest during his six years in Anaheim, with the club even advertising Japanese cat food during games late in his tenure.”

Both Ken Rosenthal at The Athletic and Dylan Hernández at the Los Angeles Times wrote, in their own ways, that the massive Ohtani contract is good for baseball.

Deesha Thosar at Fox Sports wrote about the differences Ohtani might face between Anaheim and Los Angeles, in addition to switching from the Angels to the Dodgers.

Jacob Burch and I discussed the Ohtani signing, and the wild few days that led up to the deal on the Three-Inning Save podcast.

I very much enjoyed the choice of headline for the print version of Sunday’s Los Angeles Times sports section. “SHO BUSINESS” is rock solid:

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