Saturday, February 24, 2024

False report prompted Dodgers to move quickly on Shohei Ohtani

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Following 24 hours of speculation and plane watching, prized free agent Shohei Ohtani agreed to a record-setting deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers. And a report that turned out to be false may have spurred the team to act.

While much of the baseball world tracked a flight to Canada, Dodgers Nation reported that Ohtani had agreed to join the Blue Jays. While the report was inaccurate, the Dodgers didn’t know it.

“They held meetings Friday night with the an air of worry,” Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated wrote. “The rumors were likely false, they decided, but they still created angst among the Los Angeles executives.”

An executive from the team confirmed the uncertainty to Verducci, describing it as “not a comfortable feeling.”

While the report of an agreement with the Blue Jays floated around, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reported that Ohtani was on a private plane headed for Toronto. Morosi later recanted the report, apologizing for spreading “inaccurate information.”

Regardless of the why, the events led the Dodgers to push harder for Ohtani, ultimately agreeing to a 10-year, $700 million contract agreement, the highest ever signed by a professional athlete. As of late Friday night, Ohtani has confirmed the deal, while the Dodgers have remained silent.

If the Dodgers went the extra mile in showing how badly they wanted Ohtani, he displayed a similar excitement in joining them. Ohtani reportedly asked for significant deferrals in his contract to allow the Dodgers more wiggle room to add talent around him. According to Jeff Passan of ESPN, the deferred amount includes “most of” Ohtani’s $700 million salary.

No matter what happens, Ohtani will get his money from the Dodgers. However, as Passan explained, on X, formerly Twitter, deferred money looks different on the books, discounting the competitive-balance tax while opening up a good chunk of money for the team to spend.

“Typically, a CBT number is the average annual value of a deal — in this case $70 million,” Passan wrote. “But depending on the size and length of the deferrals, Ohtani’s CBT number is likelier to wind up in the $40-50 million-a-year range, an enormous benefit for the Dodgers.”

Things may not have worked out exactly how the Dodgers planned, but in the end, they got their man and a shot at a World Series for potentially the next decade.

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