Shohei Ohtani revealed his dog’s name at his Dodgers intro, and something candid from his new team

LOS ANGELES — For all the talk about Shohei Ohtani and the Los Angeles Dodgers becoming the most grotesque example of baseball’s excess and a a cynical twisting of contract deferrals, it was still pretty clear Thursday that both sides are still wanting.

The Dodgers introduced their newest and brightest star at Chavez Ravine, then watched him make some interesting admissions as he addressed the media for the first time since his season ended via scalpel to his elbow.

The first — and let’s be real, the more urgent — was that the dog that so many baseball fans fell in love with during his MVP acceptance speech is named Decoy, or Dekopin in Japanese.

The second — and maybe something the Dodgers would have rather not be disclosed — is that his new team understands a decade with nine division titles, three NL pennants, a World Series title and a consistently sold-out stadium is seen as a failure, by both their fans and critics.

Because the Dodgers, with a financial firehose and one of the most grey matter-filled front offices in sports, are supposed to win more than just one World Series, even moreso now with Ohtani aboard. And after six years of below-.500 ball with the the Angels, that kind of outlook is exactly what appealed to Ohtani is his second go-around in MLB free agency:

“One thing that really stands out in my head is, when I had the meeting with the Dodgers’ ownership group, they said when they look back at the last 10 years, even though they’ve made the playoffs every single year, won a World Series ring, it’s considered a failure,” Ohtani said. “And when I heard that, I knew that they were all about winning, and that’s exactly how I feel.”

If there was a keyword used by Ohtani and the Dodgers brass on Thursday, it might have been “alignment.”

Ohtani was drawn to the Dodgers because they have basically been a photo negative of the Angels on the field during his career, consistently winning with a rotating trove of All-Stars. The Dodgers were drawn to Ohtani because they have been in on him since he was a high-schooler, and can now get him in after a second unanimous MVP season.

Everything that has come out about Ohtani’s contract has held up the idea that Ohtani wants exactly what the Dodgers have been since he reached the U.S., most notably the reported clause that he can terminate the deal if the team’s principal owner, Mark Walter, or its president of baseball operations, Andrew Friedman, ever leave their posts.

“Everybody has to be on the same page in order to have a winning organization,” Ohtani said. “I feel like those two are at the top of it, and they’re in control of everything, and I feel almost like I’m having a contract with those two guys. And I feel like, if one of them are gone, and [we’ll] not be on the same page, I feel like things might get a little out of control. So I just wanted a safety net.”

Friedman called that clause “flattering” in a scrum after Ohtani’s Q&A, and joked people would think he put it in the contract himself. He also reiterated that he isn’t going anywhere, calling his unusual new position a “non-factor.”

He also addressed the deferrals that have enraged certain fans this week, in which Ohtani won’t see $680 million of his money (97%) until after his contract is over. Ohtani was reported to have brought the idea to the table with other teams (the San Francisco Giants were one such candidate), and Friedman confirmed that was the case.

“I wouldn’t have had the guts to propose it and it’s what’s funny about ‘Oh the Dodgers!'” Friedman said. “I wouldn’t have had the guts to have done that. But as [Ohtani’s agent Nez Balelo] walked through it and laid it out as we were talking, it was incredibly consistent with everything he had said throughout the process. Sometimes you experience that, but they don’t sync up and match.”

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 14: Manager Dave Roberts of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Shohei Ohtani shake hands during the Shohei Ohtani Los Angeles Dodgers Press Conference at Dodger Stadium on Thursday, December 14, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images)LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 14: Manager Dave Roberts of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Shohei Ohtani shake hands during the Shohei Ohtani Los Angeles Dodgers Press Conference at Dodger Stadium on Thursday, December 14, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Shohei Ohtani has a very good dog, and a lot of work to do with the Dodgers. (Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images) (Rob Leiter via Getty Images)

The final proposal came in Friday morning, per Friedman, hours before pure chaos erupted. Even as Ohtani was rumored to be headed to the Toronto Blue Jays and reporters tried to figure out if he was on a Canada-bound plane, Friedman said the Dodgers knew they weren’t out of it.

Balelo had apparently said throughout the process that Ohtani knew he wanted to make the announcement himself on Instagram, which he did. As long as no Blue Jays logo appeared on Ohtani’s feed, the Dodgers front office knew they were still in it.

Now, Ohtani’s major obstacle is getting healthy again. He said he had begun taking dry swings last week and expected to be ready for Opening Day, but pitching remains out until 2025. As for Friedman, they still have work to do.

“It was important to Shohei that this wasn’t the one group we were going to make,” Friedman said. “I think anyone who’s watched us operate over the years, we’re trying to add really good players at every turn.

One hour later, the Dodgers reached a deal on a trade for Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Tyler Glasnow, with even more moves — such as signing Ohtani’s Team Japan teammate Yoshinobu Yamamoto — likely on the way.

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