With Yoshinobu Yamamoto joining Shohei Ohtani in Tinsel Town, are the Dodgers set to sign more stars from The Land of the Rising Sun?
The Japanese are invading L.A. – and Dodger fans couldn’t be happier. The massive signing of pitcher/designated hitter Shohei Ohtani, as well as fascinating Far East phenom Yoshinobu Yamamoto, has a new sun rising on the California cast. One that looks like it could lead to a potential Dodger dynasty, led by some new friends from across the Pacific.
The Arrival Of Ohtani
Ohtani might be the greatest free-agent signing in MLB history. Not only did the payer get what he wanted ($700 billion for the 10-year deal), but L.A. got a bonus – The once-in-a-lifetime star decided to defer an amazing $680 million of his salary until after the contract expires in 2034. So, the team gets baseball’s modern-day Babe Ruth for the price of a journeyman reliever.
Ohtani’s unselfish actions were for no other reason than his desire to win. Despite capturing the imagination of baseball with his two-way play, along with the AL MVP Award in both 2021 and 2023, he has yet to capture the ultimate prize – a World Series ring.
Meanwhile, the Dodgers are only a couple of steps away from grabbing that holy grail on a seemingly annual basis. So needless to say, seeing the already-dominant Dodgers sign the sensation for a song was like dropping a bomb on the rest of Major League Baseball.
A Recruiting Ripple Effect
Historically, the Dodgers have already made a lot of waves in Japan, when they brought pitcher Hideo Nomo to the States in the early ’90s. But to be fair to the tornado-style twirler, he was nowhere near the caliber of talent that we are now seeing arrive from The Land of The Rising Sun.
Both of these new Dodgers are expected to be high-profile players for a LONG time for Los Angeles. And the more they win? The more other stars from back home might be looking to join them.
And why not? California has always been home to a large Asian population. On top of that, Ohtani is a crossover star who appeals to not only those of his own racial and cultural background but to fans of every stripe. In many ways, his arrival in L.A. signals that he’s now the face of baseball.
With that being said, L.A. should use that as a pitch for any potential prospects from overseas in the future. In a city that’s a melting pot anyway, wouldn’t it be amazing to see the Dodgers become the destination for standouts from Japan?
There’s reason to believe it won’t end here. While it’s been said that many Japanese players prefer to NOT join teams that already have a fellow countryman on the roster (for whatever reason), Ohtani may have just broken the mold. If he extends an olive branch from L.A. to Asia? Then the Dodgers might be the Godzilla of baseball for years to come.
Ryan K Boman is the author of the 2023 book, Pop Music & Peanut Butter: A Collection of Essays about Embracing Life with Laughter & Love. Follow him on social media @RyanKBoman