Japanese baseball superstar Shohei Ohtani, a two-time Major League Baseball MVP, announced Saturday that he has signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for one of the biggest contracts in the history of the sport. "I've decided to pick the Dodgers as my next team," Ohtani said in a message on his Instagram account, ending weeks of speculation about his future.
The Japanese, a player with a unique talent for hitting and pitching, leaves the Los Angeles Angels for a contract that, according to media reports, will bring him about 700 million dollars for 10 years.
Ohtani, 29, was the most coveted free agent of recent seasons in the Major Free Zone and his name was associated with teams such as the Toronto Blue Jays or the Texas Rangers, reigning champions.
Finally, the Japanese opted to remain in Los Angeles (California) changing the uniform of the Angels, the franchise with which he entered the Major Leagues in 2018, for that of the popular Dodgers, whose last title was in 2020.
"To all the fans and everyone involved in the world of baseball, I apologize for taking so long to make a decision," Ohtani wrote.
"I am committed to always doing what is best for the team and to continue to give my all to be the best version of myself," he said. "Until the last day of my playing career, I want to keep striving not only for the Dodgers, but for the world of baseball."
U.S. media reported that Ohtani's contract would amount to $700 million over 10 years, making it the largest in the history of the sport.
Ohtani's agent, Nez Balelo, said in a statement that the Dodgers had given Ohtani a "one-of-a-kind historic contract, for a one-of-a-kind historic player."
"Shohei is thrilled to be a part of the Dodgers organization," Balelo said. "He's excited to start this partnership."
Ohtani has been one of the great sensations of North American baseball since he landed in the league in 2018, with his almost unheard of combination of elite pitching and batting prowess earning him comparisons to Babe Ruth.
While his talent was never enough to get the Angels into the playoffs, Ohtani hasn't stopped hoarding stats and awards.
The Japanese is the only player to win two MVP (Most Valuable Player) awards unanimously, in 2021 and this past season in the American League.
The Angels star had another extraordinary season despite missing the year with a right elbow injury suffered in August and a right oblique injury in September.
Ohtani racked up 44 home runs, 20 stolen bases and 95 RBIs and also shined on the mound with the lowest batting percentage against (.184) among all American League pitchers with at least 130 innings pitched.
He was named to the All-Star Game as a pitcher and designated hitter for the third straight season.