When Shohei Ohtani arrived to Major League Baseball in 2018, his courting was the biggest storyline of the offseason following the 2017 campaign. The "Japanese Babe Ruth" was ready to make the move to the States and all the biggest names were involved.
The New York Yankees were considered the top destination ... until Ohtani swiftly ruled them out. The Seattle Mariners were another, given the influence of Ichiro Suzuki's career there. Nope. The Los Angeles Dodgers, arguably the best team in baseball, were another, and had an edge being on the West Coast and having been to the World Series just a few months prior.
Nope again! Ohtani signed with the Angels, in what proved to be the incorrect decision that many predicted it would. His upcoming 2023 free agency will feature many of the same suitors, but will be an even greater spectacle because he's expected to land the largest contract in MLB history.
The Dodgers are the "favorites" to sign the 29-year-old if we were to poll the public, but perhaps everyone's forgetting about the semi-contentious meeting these two sides had back when Ohtani was introducing himself to MLB.
To up the ante and give Ohtani the full Dodger experience, LA sent team legends Clayton Kershaw and Justin Turner to the meeting with Ohtani's representation. When all was said and done, Kershaw and Turner went public with the details and had nothing good to say. Might that affect Ohtani's decision this time around?
Are Dodgers fans forgetting about LA's first failed meeting with Shohei Ohtani?
Both Kershaw and Turner called the meeting a "waste of time," directing the ire towards Ohtani's agent, Nez Balelo and the likelihood that the American League possessed an advantage with the designated hitter position. Turner went a bit nuclear, too.
"'He might as well have not been sitting there,' Turner said, using an expletive for emphasis. 'We might as well have been speaking to a window.'- LA Times
At one point, Turner recalled, Ohtani was asked for his true preference: Would he rather hit or pitch? 'And he said,' ‘Whatever the manager says.’ 'I was like ‘Come on,’ Turner said."
Kershaw added that it seemed like it was "pre-determined" Ohtani wanted to DH. The star pitcher was also "mad" at Ohtani's agent for "making us waste all that time and effort."
Though there's a universal DH now, might those comments play a role in Ohtani's decision? What about manager Dave Roberts saying, “It would have been a lot of work, for one particular player, and a lot of sacrifices for other guys, but when you look at the caliber of player — you don’t do that for everyone. He’s a special type of player" in regard to potentially acquiring Ohtani? Roberts, despite having nice things to say, also echoed Kershaw's sentiment that Ohtani's decision was pre-determined.
That was seemingly the first step in Ohtani "defying convention," which many have come to believe is his norm since arriving in MLB. The Yankees -- the consensus frontrunners back in 2018 -- were the first team he eliminated in his search.
The Dodgers are the frontunners in 2023 and possess a paper trail of bad-mouthing Ohtani's representation. How would that not factor into the decision-making process this time around?