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Would Shohei Ohtani Give The Dodgers Better Value as a Pitcher?

Shohei Ohtani

He’s got the spin rates. He’s got the exit velocities. He’s got the power.  Two-way Japanese star Shohei Ohtani has the skills to translate into big league success and the Dodgers are one of the finalists to sign him to his first Major League contract. Of course we all know that the Dodgers are probably not going to sign him (Unlikely they brake the bank), but man wouldn’t it be cool if they did?

According to Mike Petriello of’s statcast, Ohtani’s skills, peripherals, and metrics all point to him being able to transfer immediately into major league success. He certainly looks like he could become a star. We all know it doesn’t quite work that way though. We’ve seen plenty of highly touted Japanese players come over to the majors and never make it,or suck, or disappoint. On the flip side we’ve also seen a lot of super talented Japanese stars from the NPB come over and become exactly who we thought they would be.

If the Dodgers sign Ohtani, where would he fit into the starting rotation or starting lineup? Ohtani had just 231 plate appearances for the Nippon Ham Fighters, but still managed to slash an excellent .332/.403/.540 and post a .942 OPS. Pretty darned good for a pitcher if you ask me.

Ohtani is so much more than just a glorified Orel Hershiser or Fernando Valenzuela with the bat. Those guys were good hitters for pitchers, but Ohtani is someone who could actually start every day and produce. According to the numbers, he batted .322 and posted an OPS of over a thousand in 2016. He’s got the power too. He hit 8 home runs in 2017 and 22 long balls in 2016. He’s hit 48 career home runs. He probably won’t hit 22 home runs while playing in spacious pitcher friendly Dodger Stadium, but he definitely has some pop.

One would think the Dodgers would put Ohtani in left field if they decide to obtain his services. He would definitely push Joc Pederson, Andrew Toles or whoever else is in the mix off to the bench. Although he’s played just seven career games in left field and the rest of the time has been in right field. Note that he hasn’t played the outfield at all since 2014 according to his NPB stats. He only pitched 25.1 innings in 2017. I still think Ohtani brings more value to the Dodgers in the rotation that he would in the outfield/starting lineup. They have a bigger need in the rotation than in the outfield or lineup.

My guess is he goes to the Mariners. That’s just a hunch based on Seattle’s deep roots to Japan and some of the recent moves/trades from the emerald city over the last week. They just recently acquired former Dodger and juicer Dee Gordon from the Marlins. They’ve also been acquiring international bonus money. They may be tooling up for something big.

I don’t see the Padres or Rangers getting him. The Padres are poor. The Rangers are not a west coast club and recent reports indicate that Ohtani wants to play for a west coast team. That goes for the Cubs as well. So that leaves the Dodgers, Angels, Mariners and ughhh Giants. If we’re going by process of elimination during my totally fabricated logic.

Oh god what if the Giants get him? Gulp.

Scott Andes

Scott Andes: Longtime writer and Dodger fanatic

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Scott Andes
Scott Andes: Longtime writer and Dodger fanatic

44 thoughts on “Would Shohei Ohtani Give The Dodgers Better Value as a Pitcher?

    1. He said he would not accept a trade to either the Giants or the Cardinals. He has narrowed his choices to the Dodgers, Yankees, Cubs and Astros.

  1. The Padres have more than just weather to land Otani. They have the scout who originally recruited him out of high school, Logan White, and Ohtani went so far as to send a letter to every Japanese team begging them not to draft him, back then. The Fighters said, nice try kid, and drafted him anyways.

    On his value, I’ve been putting on my best FBZ hat and I think they likely pitched a quasi 6 man rotation to him. Their is our strength – everyone else left will need him to pitch every five days except us.

    But it is a modified SABR approach, because the FBZ is not going to a straight 6 man rotation – that’s too simple. This is how it works. The key is to go to a six man while keeping Kershaw on his regular schedule (because everyone else on our fragile staff pretty much could use an extra day, cough cough).

    The pitching sequence reflects the following starters pitching in order of consecutive pitching days: 1. Kershaw 2. Hill 3. Wood. 4.Maeda. 5. Ryu. 6. KERSHAW. 7. Ohtani. 8. Hill. 9. Wood. 10. Maeda. 11. KERSHAW. 12. Hill. 13. Ohtani. 14. Wood. 15. Maeda. 16. KERSHAW. 17. Ryu. 18. Hill. 19. Ohtani. 20. Wood. 21. KERSHAW. 22. Maeda. 23. Ryu. 24. Hill. 25. Ohtani. 26. KERSHAW. (I think you get the idea, or not …). Kershaw always pitches every fifth day. Ohtani always pitches every sixth day which with the MLB schedule means he pitches once a week. Everyone else gets extra rest here and there all season without using the 10 day DL shuffle. This could be great for everyone, especially Wood and Maeda who has had problems when they lose velocity due to fatigue.

    With this schedule Ohtani can play occasional LF and pinch hit all week and easily average 10 ABs per week, which projects to 200-250 ABs for the season.

    We are the only team left amongst the finalists who can legitimately do this. (Or he can sign with the Angels and Mariners and wear himself out pitching in a 5 man rotation and DH). If I was his agent I would make sure Ohtani does not stretch himself too thin as the big contract is not coming until Several years down the line …,

  2. Cubs sign Chatwood for 3 years 38m. That’s a good sign for value.

    We signed one big the Braves international players that became FAs due to the MLB penalties. Zuniga. A 20 year old lefty.

    1. YF

      I totally agree with your analysis about Ohtani and the Dodgers!

      Even though we don’t have the DH, we have had a very flexible line up, from day to day, and we made it work, and we made it work pretty successfully.

      And we have already did what any team will probably have to do, to allow Ohtani to only pitch once a week.

      And non of those other teams, have the depth in starting pitching we have, to make this work as easily.

      And your example shows that it isn’t going to be as easy for these American League teams to do, if they don’t have the starting pitching depth like we have.

      Also Ohtani’s first year in the majors, is going to be a major adjustment on its own, so I don’t see him getting as many at bats, he will eventually want to get, with so much change, in everything in his life.

      And we need a top starting pitcher more then anything, and that need becomes even bigger, in the post season!

      And there won’t be many good starting pitchers available in the next two years, so I think if they get a chance to get a good starting pitcher, they should make it happen.

      1. The other key is that all of our pitchers other than Kershaw would benefit from the rotation experiment. This means they would welcome it which makes a big difference if you’re Ohtani – you’re not rocking the boat or affecting other people’s routines.

  3. Ken Rosenthall says the Yankees and Cubs and Astros are now on the approved list for Stanton. I believe that is just rumor so Ken can get more people to sign up for his site. Money, Money Money. I will be that Stanton goes to none of those teams.

    1. Stanton wants to play in LA. That is obvious to everyone. The Dodgers look like they might be playing poker. Sure, they are interested, severally teams are interested. I don’t believe the contract is a problem for those teams showing interest, including the Dodgers, but LA may be more intrigued with Ozuna. So, we wait.

      1. Badger
        Don’t you think Ozuna would be a little expensive too? Why not just get Stanton? Ozuna got 3.5 mil last year and I would think the would get a pretty big increase. You know Friedman though, he doesn’t like people pushing him and he is cheap deep down inside. Just a nice way of saying he is an a$$hol So we wait.

        1. The Dodgers are a good match for Ozuna. He’s arb eligible for 2 more years and we have the prospects to make it happen.

          1. Hey Badger
            Have you ever noticed that the Dodgers are always in on every big name player that becomes available? Factor that in and look at how many the team has gotten. Not too good. Compare that to Colletti and there is a huge difference. Just thinking.

          2. Badger

            I think if we get any outfielder, we should get Stanton.

            Everyone on the MLB Channel back east, doesn’t want Stanton to go to the Dodgers, so I hope we get Stanton.

            Anytime someone says it is in Stanton’s hands, they try to say, it can’t happen!

            If Stanton rather stay in Miami, instead of going to the Giants or the Cards, it is in his hands.

            There is no guarantee that the Giants and the Cards, are going to make the post season, in the next few years, and if he is happy living in Miami, why move to a team you don’t want to move to.

          3. I would think at this point he is done with Miami and Miami wants to be done with him. Apparently he has a lot of options and a few of them are with playoff teams. If the Dodgers are indeed interested, and are just waiting for the price in prospects to go down, the time for getting off the pot is approaching. This weekend would be good.

  4. According to Rosenthal the following players have agreed to deals and are pending physicals. Hosmer to Padres 3 years. Arietta to the Brewers and Cain to the Mets. All those story’s are on his twitter feed. Also 46 minutes ago he tweeted that the Dodgers are close to getting Stanton. His words, not mine.

    1. Not his words Michael. Not sure where you found the words that you misappropriated.

      Unless I’m wrong for the four millionth time.

      1. Yep. His words right on his twitter page about an hour ago. Ohtani signs with the Angels, nobody saw that coming. And I sir do not misappropriate…I just copy what I read……

          1. One thing that works perfectly is my eyesight. I went on twitter, went to #dodgers and there was a tweet on there from Rosenthal saying the Dodgers were close to getting Stanton. I wanted to check that out so I went to Rosenthal’s twitter page where he had posted the other story’s I wrote about. Not saying they are fact, but that is what was written. That’s all I can say about it.

    2. Look Bluto, It was on there when I read it that is why I wrote it. I went back later and none of those tweets were there. So my eyes are fine. Tweets can be deleted. I am not making up. When I was on twitter at 10:38 this morning, it was there. It is not there now…..

    1. I am not that informed on the Angels, but it seems like the Angels wouldn’t have a lot of depth in starting pitching, to allow Ohtani to make just one start, a week.

      And with Ohtani going to the Angels, it feels like we just missed out.

      1. Their starting staff is not all that. But they are an AL team, have over 2,000,000 in bonus cash he can have and he can DH.

        1. Orange County, AL team, it’s a good fit.

          LA is close to Stanton. That’s true. About 22 miles as the crow flies.

          1. If Ohtani can hit like he did in Japan, in the major leagues, the Angels have two pretty good hitters, with power, from both sides.

            That makes me want the Dodgers to get Stanton, because Stanton and Cody, would be two comparable bats, from the right and left too.

            I know it is a long shot, but what a line up, that would be!

    2. LA Times must have had an onside look – they did a nice article on how much better the OC is for Asian Americans and Ohtani would love there.

      I like it a lot. I went to high school in OC and drove by the stadium every night.

          1. My wife is a UC Irvine grad. Go Anteaters. Her family stil lives in the area. I think we had this conversation before. I’m old. I forget stuff.

  5. I do not make things up for my own amusement. I do not make up fake signings or news. If it is on a reputable site I write it down. The stuff I wrote that Rosenthal allegedly posted, I saw there and wrote it right after I read it. It looks like those posts were deleted. Not my problem. There is nothing wrong with my eyesight, my reading comprehension nor my mind.

  6. Dodgers are Stanton’s top choice. But they not only have luxury tax issue but could move into debt-service issue. These issues plus knowledge of being top choice would affect any offer.

    Per Heyman

  7. “Baseball teams are subject to a rule that “limits debt to no more than 12 times annual revenue, minus expenses,” writes Shaikin. In the case of the Dodgers, the large amount of debt is offset by a massive television rights agreement – reportedly worth $8.35B over 25 years – along with the ticket sales from league-best attendance (among other sources of revenue). Of course, the club has also committed more in payroll ($1.181B, including $112MM in luxury-tax payments) since the sale than any other organization.

    While the Los Angeles Times report suggests that there is a league mandate for the Dodgers to reduce their debt ratio, that’s not the team’s interpretation. “There is no mandate,” president/CEO Stan Kasten tells Padilla. “There is no problem with our debt and we continue to work on the same program we have been working on from the day we walked in here in 2012.”

    More broadly, Kasten emphasized, “business for the Dodgers is very strong and very healthy.” While the team has focused more on obtaining and developing young talent than on continuing to take on huge salary commitments, top organizational figures say that’s all part of the original plan rather than a reflection of some mounting debt problem.”

    From a piece by Conor Byrne at Trade Rumors a year ago. I had difficulty copying the address but if interested it’s easy to find.

    For a long time we have heard rather loudly from those that believe the Dodgers have a debt problem but the Dodgers themselves say it isn’t true and they continue to spend. I haven’t believed it since it was trumpeted 3 years ago the Dodgers HAD to get under the luxury cap NOW. It didn’t happen, as I said it wouldn’t, and it’s not going to happen in ‘18 either.

    1. I’m not sure the Shaikin nor Kasten quotes bolster your point, Badger. Both seem (to me) to re-enforce that the Guggenheim Group had a plan when they purchased that team, and are sticking to it.

      Everything I’ve read concurs with that, and states that said plan involves a reduction in payroll.

      1. “There is no problem with our debt”
        “Business for the Dodgers is very strong and very healthy”

        Sounds to me like he means it.

        Back then some people writing on blogs said the Dodgers debt, including “the Trade” was “crippling” them and would be doing so for years. I don’t see any crippling. Do you?

        They may have made a choice to get payroll under a certain amount of control, but it’s a choice not an outright necessity. These guys want to win a championship and if they think staying over the luxury tax is important to achieve that goal then stay over the cap they will. I said it in’14 and I’m saying it again. It’s possible that this time I will be wrong, but I don’t think so. I believe the $ ceiling this year is $237mm.

          1. “debt!=debt service”

            Huh? Don’t follow you there.

            Debt service simply put is the ability to pay interest and principle on borrowed money. According to the statements issued by Kasten, quoted above, the Dodgers are doing fine.

  8. Giants and the Cards are out on Stanton now!

    And Ohtani said he picked the Angels, because he felt he had a bond with the Angels.

    The Angels have a bench coach, that speaks Japanese, and I don’t know what else the Angels would have, other then that, for Ohtani to feel a bond.

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