Adrián González: Dodgers Care Package For Shohei Ohtani In 2016 Resulted In Tampering Fine

Originally published by DodgerBlue.com

After spending five seasons with the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB), Shohei Ohtani decided to make the jump to MLB for the 2018 season.

The two-way star was heavily recruited by teams, including the Los Angeles Dodgers, who had been scouting him since his days as a freshman at Hanamaki Higashi High School.

Ohtani ultimately signed with the Los Angeles Angels, but it wasn’t without a strong push from the Dodgers to bring him into the organization.

Former Dodgers first baseman Adrián González said the team had him deliver a care package to Ohtani prior to an exhibition game between Team Mexico and Team Japan in 2016, which resulted in a fine, via “Dodger Talk” on AM 570 L.A. Sports:

“So that was an interesting story. So, my brother Edgar set up a kind of like a mini-series with Team Mexico, which he was the head coach of Team Mexico at the time, and the Japanese teams. Ohtani was playing in that tournament and so Andrew (Friedman) and company said, ‘Hey, if we give you a care package for him, will you present it to him? Because we cannot pursue him, it’s against the rules, but you as a person can obviously take whatever you want to any player.’ I was like, ‘Sure, of course. I have no problem with that.’ So when there was batting practice, I went out there and I said, ‘Hi’ to Ohtani and I gave him the care package that I personally took to Ohtani, you know, quote unquote. And he gave me a signed jersey. So I have the signed jersey at home from Ohtani from his Japan days, and we took a picture, and we did what a lot of people do with the jersey exchange and the pictures and all that. Of course, the Dodgers got fined and in trouble for that. But they paid their fines. They knew there was a possibility and the team paid their fines, but I was the messenger at the time. So fast-forward a bunch of years later, obviously, it paid dividends to kind of set that spark in him that the team was really interested in him.“

González was in his penultimate season with the Dodgers at the time, and there were no restrictions for players exchanging gifts with each other. However, MLB eventually caught on and fined the organization for tampering.

The Dodgers’ attempt to woo Ohtani may have been subtle, but the efforts did not go unnoticed. The 29-year-old signed a record-setting 10-year, $700 million contract with the team this offseason.

The deal includes unprecedented deferrals that will see Ohtani earn just $20 million over the length of the deal. He will then receive the remaining $680 million from 2034-2043.

Brandon Gomes: Dodgers ‘couldn’t be more confident’ in Shohei Ohtani returning as pitcher

Ohtani won’t be able to pitch this season as he recovers from elbow surgery, but the expectation is that he will be back on a Major League mound in 2025.

Dodgers general manager Brandon Gomes said the team has all the confidence in Ohtani coming back strong as a pitcher.

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