Half of you probably just clicked on this article just to scroll all the way down to the comments section so you can berate me all about how the D-backs are just a poverty franchise that doesn’t have the funding to make a big splash. I would encourage those of you that fall into that camp to take a deep breath, read awhile further, and you can sharpen your pencil while you do so.
After watching football yesterday, I decided to check out Shohei Ohtani: Beyond the Dream on ESPN+. The documentary was just released on 11/17 and I’d encourage everyone to check it out. Truly amazing story. We are witnessing something right now our grandchildren will be asking us about someday. There were a few pearls that were undoubtedly snuck into this documentary given his current free agent situation. Here were my takeaways and why I thought to write this post:
- 1. The most dramatic scene in the documentary was Shohei scribing on a sheet of paper his greatest goal which is ‘world champion’. Seemingly as a message to people what truly matters to someone who has accomplished so much to this point. One of the recurring themes throughout was this sheet of paper that he wrote out all of his goals and how he was going to attain them when he was just in middle school. Pedro Martinez and Hideki Matsui were just in shock at the level of detail and the confidence in his ability to attain those goals he displayed. It is clear he knows what he wants and has shifted his focus to becoming a world champion.
- 2. They spoke to him about why he chose the Angels when coming over, and his answer was very interesting. I will paraphrase but basically the gist was that he trusted his intuition. He spoke about meeting several of the people within the organization who all seemed to genuinely believe in him and what he wanted to do. He spoke at length about how much thought he put into each and every option and why his intuition led him where it did. Very impressive for someone so young.
If you’re still reading, thank you. Let me jump to the juicy debate fuel. The Arizona Diamondbacks can absolutely afford Shohei Ohtani, along with many other teams. You read that correctly. I thought about this earlier in the season, but it was validated most recently by Keith Law in The Athletic. "Ohtani is worth north of $70 million a year to the Angels before he throws a pitch or swings a bat." I will paraphrase the rest but this is basically due to all of the additional revenue they get from corporate sponsorships, stadium signage, and Ohtani merchandise. 70 million a year for 10 years, Kendrick could pay 700 million to him and not really be out anything. This is of course an over simplification, but you get the point?
Specifically to the Dbacks, there is so much disparity in terms of attendance when this team is good vs when this team is bad. Chase Field would absolutely go nuts for years to come if Shohei was in the middle of this order and was pitching every fifth day. These fans proved that they were still there and ready to root for a competitive team this postseason.
If you don’t want to read anymore and are ready to light me up in the comments, read this last paragraph as it is the point of my article other than how the Dbacks can afford Ohtani. After watching the documentary, I believe the biggest obstacle teams are going to have in signing Ohtani is convincing him they are going to be able to get him to his dream of becoming a world champion. This is where the Dbacks should have a significant leg up as they were the second best team in the MLB in 2023. You can look at all the power rankings you want by the ‘experts’ and they will be quick to point to this teams run differential and the 84 wins during the regular season. However the fact of the matter is that the Dbacks beat the Brewers, Dodgers, and the Phillies. Yes as we all know they wound up losing to the Rangers, and so they were definitely the better team. However going into the series, it seemed to actually be a pretty even matchup. A matchup that if the Dbacks had Ohtani on their roster, you would almost certainly give the edge to the Dbacks. You would also be hard pressed to find another team with the contention window the Dbacks have coming as most of their team is still just scratching the surface of their potential and will be around for seasons to come. The same can’t be said for the ‘favorites’ to land Ohtani, the Dodgers, who have serious question marks especially in their rotation moving forward.
There are other things the Dodgers have working against them in luring Ohtani other than their expensive state taxes and questionable at best rotation of Buehler, Miller, Pepiot?, Sheehan?, ??... It also seems as though Ohtani really values his privacy. Something that he will have none of as a Dodger. While the Angels have Los Angeles in the name, that is an extremely different market. Also works against teams like the Mets, Yankees, and Red Sox.
Moves don’t happen in a vacuum. The other huge benefit for Kendrick and Hazen in singing Ohtani will be the addition by subtraction of him not being on the Dodgers, the Padres, or the Rangers. If they truly are serious about winning a championship, allowing their competition to sign Ohtani will just raise the bar further in regard to what they are going to have to build to get there.
The biggest attraction the Dbacks can offer a free agent, is aside from being the second best team in baseball, they are arguably the most connected team in baseball. We heard from several of the veterans on this team about how special the bond is between players. This is amplified by Torey, Bannister, and the other coaches. It was also apparent when Carroll was spending his time with the team the other night when he was being interviewed. This team has something very special in terms of camaraderie going right now. This should be a huge factor with anyone when determining where they want to spend the next 10 years of their career. This dawned on me while I was sitting in the outfield bleachers watching the Rangers celebrate their first world series championship a couple weeks ago. It was definitely not how the Dbacks would have celebrated I don’t believe. Players who have only known each other for a season or less celebrated with a rent-a-manager who had already been there several times before.
Thank you guys for reading and for indulging me in what most likely is nothing more than a dream. However I wouldn’t count us out either. I really do believe after watching the documentary, learning about Ohtani as a person, the financials, being one of the best teams in the MLB with the brightest future, and the connectedness that exists on this team this wouldn’t be farfetched. Ohtani wants to be a World Champion. This team with Ohtani is a World Series Championship caliber team.