Shohei Ohtani's marketing dollars aren't a sure thing long-term
Look, no one is going to deny that having Shohei Ohtani on the Dodgers is a good business decision in the short-term. Hell, the guy already broke jersey sales records since agreeing to terms with LA, and that money train is going to keep rolling ... at least for now.
It may be true that Ohtani has a Taylor Swift-esque following in Japan, in addition to being one of the most marketable players stateside that MLB has right now. He printed money for the Angels and he's going to print some money for the Dodgers. However, fans have a short memory when it comes to performance, and that's where things could take a turn for the worse.
What happens if Ohtani only pitches for a couple more seasons? Are fans going to be lining up for the merch if he's 35 years old and hitting .240? How are Dodgers fans going to react if he gets hurt again? The Dodgers would love to think that Ohtani's off-field value is immune to his performance sliding or injuries, but that isn't how these things go.
For example, just take a look at the top jersey sales from 2019 alone. Sure, there's Aaron Judge topping the list with Bryce Harper second. Good news, right? After that, there's Cody Bellinger in third, Javier Baez in fourth, and Christian Yelich rounding out the top five. Bellinger had a nice bounce-back year in 2023, but he isn't funding anyone's retirement with merch sales. Baez has one of the worst contracts in baseball. Yelich is still a good player, but is a shell of his former self when it comes to drawing power after being hurt for a few years.
Life comes at you fast, and the Dodgers have to really hope Ohtani is truly going to go down in the history books as one of the best players ever. If he falls short, he might not even be able to pay for himself.