MLB opens investigation into Shohei Ohtani: How much danger is Dodgers star in?

  • MLB has opened a formal investigation into the situation involving Shohei Ohtani and his interpreter
  • The MLB statement opens the door for punishment for the Dodgers star
  • That doesn't mean fans should expect a suspension any time soon

Los Angeles Dodgers designated hitter Shohei Ohtani
Los Angeles Dodgers designated hitter Shohei Ohtani / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

MLB has officially opened an investigation into Shohei Ohtani, translator Ippei Mizuhara and the gambling scandal that rocked baseball this week.

It took the league three days to release a statement, but they finally did it with a classic Friday evening news dump. The announcement dropped just before 6 p.m. ET in the middle of the NCAA Tournament.

MLB statement on Shohei Ohtani translator gambling scandal

“Major League Baseball has been gathering information since we learned about the allegations involving Shohei Ohtani and Ippei Mizuhari from the news media. Earlier today, our Department of Investigations (DOI) began their formal process investigating the matter.”

What does MLB investigation mean for Shohei Ohtani?

MLB was always going to have to look into this.

Ohtani is the biggest player in the sport. An account with his name on it sent millions of dollars to an allegedly illegal bookmaker. Even if you believe that Mizuhara stole that money without Ohtani's knowledge, the fact of that statement remains. The league has to at least look into it, even if it's to assure fans that Ohtani did not bet on baseball.

Technically, an investigation puts Ohtani in danger of a suspension or fine, depending on what the DOI finds. If evidence emerges that he gambled on baseball, he'd face a ban. If evidence emerges that he gambled on sports but not baseball, he could get off with as little as a fine.

The consensus at this point is that Ohtani isn't a gambler. So this is more likely to come down to what, if anything, MLB uncovers with regard to a potential cover-up.

The original story Mizuhara told ESPN is that Ohtani knowingly agreed to pay off his gambling debts, wiring payments to the bookie from his own computer. The interpreter has since disavowed that version of events. If evidence emerges to support that narrative though, that could hypothetically get Ohtani in hot water with federal laws.

It's important to note that Ohtani is not under investigation by the federal authorities currently investigating the illegal gambling operation.

So right now, the danger actually seems rather low. Ohtani isn't going to be punished for being the victim of theft, if that's the narrative that sticks. (And let's be honest, MLB is hoping that narrative sticks.)

Realistically, the Dodgers can expect to have Ohtani in their lineup for the foreseeable future. But until the investigation is wrapped up and Ohtani is cleared of wrongdoing, you never know which way this thing will go.

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