Athletic sportswear brands often look to partner with ground-breaking superstar athletes. In baseball, it’s either a slugger than can launch bombs into the outfield bleachers, or an arm that hurls pure gas. In comes Shohei Ohtani, the astounding Japanese phenom that broke the mold by excelling as both a pitcher and a hitter.
In just two full seasons in Major League Baseball, Ohtani has already secured an MVP Award, a Silver Slugger Award., strong consideration for the Cy Young, two All-Star selections, and a laundry list of other accomplishments in the MLB and in Japan. In 2022, he became the first player in MLB history as both a hitter and a pitcher, setting an incredibly high standard for the future of dual-position baseball players.
Ohtani’s looming free agency at the end of the 2023 season will predictably launch a massive bidding war, with hungry teams likely offering contracts in the $400-500 million range. But when it comes to employing his services as a brand endorser, New Balance has locked up the megastar with a long-term deal (details not disclosed). Signature shoes and other athletic gear will likely be part of this union, but for now, Ohtani will debuts the New Balance 574 Cleat, the first time the classic lifestyle shoe was made for the diamond.
For at least one more season, Ohtani will be rocking New Balance with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, but he can very likely be sporting new team colors in the Spring of 2024. Ohtani is seeking to play for a championship contender, a role in which the Angels aren’t remotely close to assuming.