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Shohei Ohtani signs with the Los Angeles Dodgers for 10 years, $700 million

Two-way superstar and reigning American League MVP Shohei Ohtani signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers, inking the richest deal in American sports history in the process.

Ohtani stays in Los Angeles, having left the Los Angeles Angels as a free agent after his American League MVP-winning 2023 season in which the Angels went 73-89 and missed the playoffs.

Now a Dodger, Ohtani is almost certain to see playoff action after never making the postseason as an Angel despite two MVP-winning seasons and teaming with another one of the greatest players ever, Mike Trout.

One way Ohtani is helping make his championship dreams more realistic is by deferring $680 million of his $700 million deal. That means he will make $2 million per year during the 10-year span of his contract, freeing up money for the Dodgers to spend elsewhere.

After the contract expires, the Dodgers will pay the remaining money to Ohtani in annual $68 million installments from 2034 to 2043, according to MLB.com.

The Dodgers are looking to bounce back from the disappointment of being swept by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NLDS, and signing arguably the most talented baseball player puts them in a great position to do so.

We'll get into how adding Ohtani affects the Dodgers' World Series odds, and how the superstar will fit into the team's pitching rotation and batting order.

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How Ohtani fits into Dodgers pitching rotation

Ohtani suffered a torn UCL in the latter part of the 2023 season, so he will not factor into the Dodgers' rotation in 2024 as he recovers from Tommy John Surgery. 

It is his second such injury so it is unlikely he will reach the heights he did when he finished fourth in 2022 AL Cy Young voting, but expect him to return as at least a solid starting pitcher.

Speaking of players recovering from Tommy John Surgery, Dodgers pitcher Walker Buehler should be healthy to start 2024. He is a two-time All-Star and finished fourth in 2021 NL Cy Young voting, but he'll be eligible for free agency after the 2024 season. Still, he'll contribute to LA's World Series hopes in 2024.

Bobby Miller and Michael Grove, 25- and 27-year-old starters respectively, should be in the 2025 rotation with Ohtani barring trade, injury, or regression. The question is how LA fills out the rest of the rotation, both for this season and in the future with Ohtani healthy.

The Dodgers' could pursue one of Ohtani's countrymen, Yoshinobu Yamamoto or Shota Imanaga, both of whom are MLB free agents right now. Or they could bring back current free agent and Dodgers legend Clayton Kershaw.

Dylan Cease of the Chicago White Sox and Tyler Glasnow of the Tampa Bay Rays are both on the trade block, and have been heavily rumored as Dodgers targets. Cease makes more sense because he is younger and won't be a free agent until 2026, although he is arbitration eligible until then.

LA has four right-handed pitchers in its top-10 prospects that are projected to reach MLB by the end of 2024. Expect to see a couple of those players traded for win-now talent in the coming months.

How Ohtani fits into Dodgers batting order

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has the ultimate high-class problem in figuring out how to place Ohtani, Mookie Betts, and Freddie Freeman in the batting order.

Betts finished second in 2023 NL MVP voting with a .307 average, 39 home runs, 107 RBI, a .408 on-base percentage, 96 walks to 107 strikeouts, and 126 runs. Freeman finished third in 2023 NL MVP voting and posted a .331 average with 29 home runs, 102 RBI, a .410 on-base percentage, 72 walks to 121 strikeouts, and 131 runs.

The Dodgers replaced 2023 All Star designated hitter JD Martinez with 2023 AL MVP Ohtani, who joins after posting a .304 average with an AL-best 44 home runs, 95 RBI, an AL-best .412 on-base percentage, 91 walks to 143 strikeouts and a MLB-best .654 slugging percentage.

Power-hitting Max Muncy holds down third base. James Outman and Will Smith, who each posted on-base percentages above .350 last season, play center field and catcher respectively.

Ohtani, Betts, Freeman, Muncy, Smith, and Outman is an elite top-six, so the remaining challenge is deciding who fills out the order.

After years alongside Trout with no playoff appearances to show for it, Ohtani knows it takes more than a few players to lift a team to those heights. But he, Betts, and Freeman have the talent to make everyone else's job a little easier as the team chases a World Series.

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