Shohei Ohtani's camp flips story, Dodgers fire his longtime interpreter amid gambling probe

Team Korea v Los Angeles Dodgers
Team Korea v Los Angeles Dodgers / Masterpress/GettyImages

What did Shohei Ohtani's camp know, and when did he know it?

Less than 12 hours after Ohtani's long-time interpreter Ippei Mizuhara was spotted in the Dodgers' dugout during Game 1 of the Seoul Series, Mizuhara has been dismissed from the team for allegedly stealing $4.5 million from Ohtani's bank account and funneling it to a bookmaking operation, which is currently under federal investigation.

Hiring Mizuhara away from the Angels was a stipulation in Ohtani's record-shattering $700 million Dodgers contract, signed in mid-December.

Perhaps most puzzling, beyond the initial shock value of this news whirlwind (all taking place while the Dodgers are overseas), is the timeline of events that led to Mizuhara's dismissal. According to ESPN, the team provided Mizuhara to recount his side of the story for a piece to be published Wednesday, indicating that the superstar slugger had transferred the funds himself to cover for Mizuhara's gambling debt. Prior to publication, Ohtani's spokesman recanted that story, claiming instead that Ohtani had been defrauded.

Shohei Ohtani Contract: What was Dodgers' Ippei Mizuhara stipulation?

Per reports at the time of the contract's signing, Ohtani retains the power to opt out of his deferral-heavy deal if core Dodgers employees, specifically Andrew Friedman and Mark Walter, are no longer in charge of the team's direction. Early internet rumors seemed to indicate that an opt-out clause might also be tied to Mizuhara's employment; though hiring Mizuhara was a stipulation of the deal, that does not seem to be the case.

It also goes without saying that it would be highly unlikely for Ohtani to accuse his interpreter of massive theft, then opt out on his behalf following the dismissal he clearly orchestrated.

More clarity to come on this story soon, but not nearly soon enough. Something genuinely fascinating seems to be unfolding overnight in Korea, involving the dissolution of a friendship.

So much for a quiet Seoul Series opener.