Expect the Los Angeles Dodgers to be very involved in the Shohei Ohtani free-agent chase. But first, Ohtani needs surgery on his elbow to repair a partially-torn UCL. That surgery was conducted on Tuesday, as Ohtani posted on his Instagram about the procedure.
Ohtani's surgery was conducted by Dodgers head team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache. Could that provide a clue into his free-agency intentions, given ElAttrache has now conducted two major surgeries on Ohtani? Thankfully, ElAttrache had nothing but positive things to say post-surgery, and expects Ohtani to make a full recovery.
“The ultimate plan after deliberation with Shohei, was to repair the issue at hand and to reinforce the healthy ligament in place while adding viable tissue for the longevity of the elbow,” ElAttrache said in a statement released by the Angels. “I expect full recovery and he’ll be ready to hit without any restrictions come opening day of 2024 and do both (hit and pitch) come 2025.”
MLB Rumors: Do the Dodgers have an edge for Shohei Ohtani?
The Dodgers should be viewed as the favorite to land Ohtani, but not because of their team doctor. ElAttrache is one of the best physicians in the sport, and routinely does these sorts of elbow surgeries for star players as a consultant. This is the second surgery he has performed on Ohtani.
Los Angeles can offer Ohtani pretty much anything he wants financially, plus they are in position to win now. He'd merely have to move crosstown and wear a different uniform. FanSided MLB Insider Robert Murray considers the likelihood of LA signing Ohtani to be relatively high, as he is at the top of their wish list.
"And there are not many teams better positioned to absorb a contract of the magnitude of Ohtani’s. The Dodgers have a few long-term contracts on the books – Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman, Chris Taylor – and many players who are pre-arbitration or still arbitration-eligible. Meaning that Friedman and the front office have flexibility in negotiations with Ohtani and his agent, Nez Balelo of CAA Baseball...Working in the Dodgers’ favor, in addition to their payroll flexibility, is that they are consistently contending."
Ohtani may very well sign with the Dodgers, but it's unlikely to have much to do with their team physician, despite their familiarity.