April 19, 2024

Shohei Ohtani made this happen.

Shohei Ohtani is why the Dodgers have agreed to terms with Yoshinobu Yamamoto.

This wasn’t about Ohtani’s recruiting pitch to Yamamoto, who already was said to have an affinity for the Dodgers.

This was about the $680-million loan Ohtani made to the Dodgers.

With Ohtani practically printing money for them, the once-cautious Dodgers made a previously unthinkable move by committing $325 million over 12 years to the undersized Yamamoto.

The Dodgers refused to spend that much on Gerrit Cole when he was a free agent four years ago, and there’s no reason to think they would have spent that much on Yamamoto if not for Ohtani insisting they defer the overwhelming majority of his annual $70-million salary without interest.

The structure of Ohtani’s 10-year deal will allow the Dodgers to make Ohtani’s money work for them, as they can invest the deferrals and keep the profits. In addition, the Dodgers could make another $50 million a year in Ohtani-related advertising and marketing revenue.

Why not spend some of that to address the team’s greatest shortcoming?

The total cost of Yamamoto will come to $375 million, as the Dodgers will pay a $50-million posting fee to the Orix Buffaloes of the Japanese league.

The Dodgers have spent more than $500 million on pitching in a little more than a week, as they signed Tyler Glasnow to a five-year, $136.5-million contract after acquiring him in a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Moves such as these are what Ohtani had in mind when he agreed to the unprecedented deferrals.

Ohtani didn’t want to financially hamstring the Dodgers. He didn’t want to be the reason they wouldn’t have any pitching, especially as he spent the upcoming season as a full-time designated hitter while recovering from his second Tommy John operation.

Yamamoto and Glasnow will improve the Dodgers’ rotation — but by how much?

The 25-year-old Yamamoto was a three-time most valuable player in Nippon Professional Baseball but pitched only once a week in that league. He also stands only 5 feet 10, which invites skepticism about how his body will hold up pitching once every five or six days over a 162-game season.

Glasnow, 30, is one of baseball’s most talented pitchers but has a history of breaking down. His 21 starts and 120 innings for the Rays last year were both career highs.

Ohtani gave the Dodgers money to spend, and they’ve spent it. The question now is whether they spent it wisely.

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