Shohei Ohtani: Baseball star joins LA Dodgers in record $700m deal

Shohei Ohtani: Baseball star joins LA Dodgers in record $700m deal
Shohei OhtaniReuters

Baseball sensation Shohei Ohtani has joined the Los Angeles Dodgers in the biggest deal in the sport’s history.

The $700m (£557.8m) 10-year contract is the largest ever in US Major League Baseball (MLB) and makes Ohtani one of the world’s highest-earning athletes.

The Japanese player, who is widely seen as among the best to have ever played the game, was the most coveted target in baseball.

The move to the Dodgers comes after weeks of speculation about his future.

A major bidding war for his signature began when Ohtani opted to leave the Los Angeles Angels as a free agent after his contract expired following a six-year stint.

The reported value of the contract ranks alongside – or even surpasses – the sort of sums megastars like footballer Lionel Messi or basketball player LeBron James have commanded.

Fans and pundits have widely credited the 29-year-old with transforming how the sport is played in the modern era, and he is already well on the way to being considered an all-time great.

Unlike most baseball players who specialise in batting or pitching, Ohtani is equally skilled at both disciplines.

He won the American League MVP award in 2021 and again last month, despite his 2023 season being cut short by injury.

Ohtani led Japan to a famous victory over the US in March, their first ever win over the Americans at international level – a major milestone for a country where baseball is the most popular sport.

In a statement posted on Instagram, Ohtani said the Angels would be “etched in my heart forever”, adding: “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.”

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