Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
The 2023 MLB All-Star Game continued the annual tradition of some of the most talented baseball players in the world meeting on the same field, which included Mookie Betts of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels two-way standout Shohei Ohtani.
Betts was among the four players representing the Dodgers in the All-Star Game, while Ohtani was the lone member of the Angels due to Mike Trout being injured. The two clubs also finished the first half of their season facing each other, which presented another opportunity for Betts and Ohtani to share the same field.
The baseball world has become captivated with Ohtani, and for good reason. As a two-way talent who excels both on the mound and at the plate, Ohtani is doing things never seen before on the field, and he’s making a case for himself as the best athlete of all-time.
In addition to his amazing talents, Ohtani is also in his final year under contract with the Angels, and the expectations are he won’t be re-signing with them, which adds a brighter spotlight onto the player that has already exceeded superstardom.
But with all the focus on Ohtani, he’s been impressed by Betts, who appeared in his seventh All-Star Game in his eighth full season.
“Not just today but just watching guys overall, I feel like Mookie Betts really impresses me,” Ohtani said after playing in the All-Star Game. “He’s so versatile. He can play the outfield, play the middle infield. I think he’s very, very talented.”
Betts has cemented himself as one of the best outfielders in baseball, but this season he has seen a lot of time at second base and shortstop, performing at a high level in all three positions. There aren’t many players with that type of versatility, especially a superstar such as Betts, and that is something Ohtani can relate to.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts previously compared Betts to Ohtani thanks to both their abilities to do “something that’s very unique, at a high level.”
Still, Ohtani is on another level than Betts. The only true comparables would be something like an elite NFL quarterback also playing as a lockdown safety or a first-line center in the NHL also doubling as a star goalie. It’s just a previously unheard-of ask for any athlete, which is why Ohtani is all but certain to sign a contract worth more at least $500 million.
The Dodgers are widely considered the favorites to sign Ohtani thanks to their winning history, deep pockets and location, and they have also long coveted adding him to their organization. All 30 teams would surely love to have Ohtani on their team, but the reality is only a few will likely be in the running.
Still, many players have been vocal about wanting Ohtani to join their organization, and the All-Star Game presented a good opportunity for many of them to make their pitch. But which players were actively recruiting him is something Ohtani won’t reveal.
“I would like to keep that a secret,” Ohtani answered. “Even if someone said that, I don’t think I would be able to say it right here.”
Regardless of whatever pitches were made, Ohtani has said multiple times he is focused on winning and that will be a priority in his next contract, which should be one of the largest ever given out to a professional athlete. That bodes well for the Dodgers, and having Betts may end up helping too.
Mariners fans recruiting Shohei Ohtani
The Seattle Mariners were one of the most aggressive teams in pursuing Ohtani when he first decided to leave Japan to play MLB. Although they missed out, they’re expected to be one of the most prominent teams in the race once again.
With T-Mobile Park in Seattle hosting the 93rd Midsummer Classic, Mariners fans were also able to make their Ohtani recruiting pitch, chanting “Come to Seattle,” every time he stepped up to the plate. Ohtani said he “never experienced anything like that,” but was just trying to focus on his at-bat.
“Every time I come here the fans are passionate, they’re really into the game,” Ohtani added. “So it’s very impressive. I actually spent a couple offseasons in Seattle. I like the city. It’s beautiful.”
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