After an awe-inspiring six-year tenure with the Angels, Shohei Ohtani is now a free agent.
It's not a foregone conclusion, of course, but there are a number of factors pointing toward Los Angeles being Ohtani's destination.
Here are five reasons why the Dodgers make sense for Ohtani.
1. Hollywood and Ohtani … the perfect match
The Angels may represent Los Angeles, but with all due respect to Anaheim, it’s not quite L.A. MLB’s biggest star belongs in a big city, and there’s no place more synonymous with stardom than Hollywood.
Ohtani will be a box-office draw no matter what, but playing in this city for one of baseball’s marquee franchises will amplify his influence off the field and enable a broader audience to appreciate his brilliance on it.
On a comfortability level, we already know that Ohtani feels at home in Southern California, so there won’t be any concerns over how he might adjust to a new environment.
2. The Dodgers give Ohtani the best chance to win now
Ohtani has now taken 2,871 plate appearances as a hitter and faced 1,951 batters as a pitcher in MLB without ever appearing in the postseason.
As baseball fans, it’s hard not to feel like we’ve been robbed of something special. And with Ohtani entering his age-29 season, we don’t want to wait any longer to see this unique talent play on the October stage.
Among the clubs that are most likely to pursue Ohtani, arguably none gives him a better chance to reach the playoffs next season than the Dodgers.
For all of their postseason disappointments, there’s no denying the Dodgers have been the standard of excellence in the regular season for more than a decade. Los Angeles has reached the playoffs in each of the past 11 years, winning 10 division titles and notching five 100-win campaigns in that span.
Although they have some question marks to address this offseason, the Dodgers are well positioned to extend their streak next season and beyond. The franchise’s foundation of Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman, Will Smith and Max Muncy is among the sturdiest in the game, its financial resources are vast and it has shown a consistent ability to replenish its big league roster with talent from the farm.
With Ohtani in the fold, they might just be the World Series favorites in 2024. What other Ohtani suitors can you say that about? Perhaps only one: the defending champion Rangers.
3. It feels like the Dodgers are due for a BIG move
While Dodgers fans have experienced a level of success about which other fan bases can only dream, it’s hard not to grow weary watching your favorite team dominate the regular season year in and year out, only to meet an early postseason exit over and over at the hands of seemingly inferior opponents.
Frustrations reached a fever pitch after the Dodgers were swept in the NLDS by the D-backs, who had 16 fewer regular-season wins than L.A. in 2023. That followed losses to the Padres (22 fewer wins) in the 2022 NLDS and the Braves (18 fewer wins) in the 2021 NLCS.
There are plenty of avenues the Dodgers can take this offseason to improve the team going into 2024, but it's going to take something monumental to re-energize their fans. Nothing else they can do would rise to the level of winning the Ohtani sweepstakes.
4. At this point, it’s all about titles for Los Angeles
Fair or not, this era of Dodgers baseball is remembered as much for their postseason setbacks as it is for their remarkable run of success during the regular season.
The Dodgers have made 11 straight playoff appearances but won only one World Series title (in 2020) in that span. It's reminiscent of the Braves teams of the 1990s and early 2000s, with Atlanta having won only one championship (in 1995) during a streak of 14 straight NL East crowns.
At this point, the Dodgers should be doing everything it takes to win another championship and sever that connection, and nothing would move the needle like signing Ohtani.
5. Everything has been building to this
The Dodgers are viewed as leading contenders for Ohtani not only because they are a big-market team with substantial financial resources and a determination to override some recent setbacks on the field, but also because their pursuit of him has seemingly been in the works for over a year.
Everything they've done has led up to this point and the opportunity to sign Ohtani. Now, they just need to seal the deal.