When I say all of the stops, I really mean all of them, considering what the Dodgers apparently had for their “ace in the hole.” While Ohtani was courting with a number of different teams amidst his free agency, there was only one MLB organization that utilized a recruitment video “from the beyond.”
Ohtani sat down for the meeting in Los Angeles, and the Dodgers pressed play on a video that featured quite possibly the most decorated and admired Los Angeles athlete ever: Kobe Bryant. Before his untimely and tragic death, Bryant (who was a Dodgers fan) recorded a video in 2017 for the Dodgers to be used if or when they decided to go after Shohei Ohtani.
Bryant’s posthumous message to Ohtani was that there is no better place to play and win than Los Angeles, and there’s no better baseball team to be a part of than the Dodgers. It was that video and message that likely helped Shohei make his free agency decision, as he told ESPN:
“That was one of the highlights of the whole meeting. I was really surprised to see it. It was a strong and touching message.”
During their pitch to Shohei Ohtani, the Dodgers had an ace in the hole.
"One of the highlights of the whole meeting," Ohtani said.
It was a 6-year-old video of Kobe Bryant encouraging him to join the Dodgers.
The idea that Kobe Bryant could still have such an impact on Los Angeles sports after his passing is a testament to the legacy that he left behind. There have been many that have reacted positively to the news of this recruitment tool, seeing it as a way for Bryant to still give back to a town that meant so much to him.
But on the flip side, there are a lot of people that feel a little somewhat “icky” about the Dodgers using the late great Kobe Bryant to reel in a big free agent:
Imagine being one of the other 29 teams, thinking you had a chance to sign Shohei, and the Dodgers walking around with a video from Kobe in their back pocket smh..