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Can the Dodgers afford this Shohei Ohtani mega deal?

With the announcement that the Dodgers and Shohei Ohtani had reached a blockbuster deal, we wonder if the Blues have bitten off more than they can chew.

With the announcement that the Dodgers and Shohei Ohtani had reached a blockbuster deal, we wonder if the Blues have bitten off more than they can chew.
Orlando RamirezUSA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

Long the frontrunner for the Ohtani sweepstakes, on Saturday it was reported that the Los Angeles Dodgers had in the end gotten their man. The Japanese phenomenon announced on Instagram that he and the cross-town rival club had agreed terms for a ten-year, $700 million deal.

While the details of the contract are not yet public, reports are that much of this will be deferred, apparently at the request of Ohtani himself. There are reportedly no opt-outs either, so by hook or by crook, Ohtani looks to be on the Los Angeles payroll to the tune of $70 million a year for the next decade.

We are, to some extent, in uncharted waters with these numbers so the big question is, can the Dodgers afford this?

Of course everyone wants Ohtani. He is a generational talent. An outstanding hitter and pitcher; not the best at either, but certainly in the top percentile of both. There is no argument that Ohtani is a player worth stretching for. But a playoff run can’t be made with one player, no matter how amazing. As a case in point, with both Ohtani and Mike Trout, the Angels were never able to make it to October.

Of course, the Dodgers are not the Angels. They already have a team that is well capable of winning the division. They are a team who are expected to make the postseason every year. But the Dodgers do have a problem staring them in the face.

They just can’t seem to get past the first round. The effort that they put in to get into the playoffs means that the Blues are generally beat up and limping by the time they get there. In fact, the only season that they bucked the trend and won it all was the pandemic-shortened season, which saw them go into the World Series with a team who had only played half a season. That lone success aside, the long grind of summer baseball wears all teams down, and the Dodgers perhaps more than most.

What they need is pitching. Deep starters, who can carry a lot of innings through the season. It may jar with Dave Roberts’ style of bullpenning management, but that is the fact of the matter.

The problem is, Shohei Ohtani cannot throw a pitch until 2025. And even then, it is always a gamble as to what type of pitcher comes back from injury. His surgery may have made him even better. Justin Verlander is an example. Or it could have blunted him entirely.

No matter what happens in two years time, the deal today is $700 million for a designated hitter. Yes, he is a great designated hitter. One who cold put up 40 or 50 home runs in a season, particularly in the hitter’s paradise of Chavez Ravine. But if that is all that Shohei Ohtani turns out to be for Los Angeles, then they may have bitten off more than they can chew.