MLB Investigating Ohtani's Involvement In Interpreter Controversy: Report

By Jason Hall

March 22, 2024

Photo: Getty Images

Major League Baseball is reportedly investigating Los Angeles Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani's involvement in a gambling scandal that led to his longtime interpreter Ippei Mizuhara's firing this week, sources with knowledge of the situation confirmed to TMZ Sports on Thursday (March 21).

Representatives for Ohtani are reported to have contacted law enforcement authorities and asked them to investigate a "massive theft" of money from the two-way baseball player, a source with direct knowledge of the situation told ESPN on Thursday. An MLB source told ESPN that the league hasn't been contacted by federal authorities in relation to the alleged incident.

Mizuhara, 39, a longtime friend of Ohtani, reportedly sent $4.5 million from Ohtani's bank account to a Southern California bookmaking operation currently under federal investigation. The interpreter's firing came after reporters asked questions about the wire transfers.

A spokesperson for Ohtani claimed the baseball player transferred the funds to cover Mizuhara's gambling debt and presented the interpreter, who went into detail about his actions to ESPN during a 90-minute interview Tuesday (March 19) night. The spokesman would later disavow Mizuhara's account of the incident and said Ohtani's lawyers would prepare a statement when ESPN published its story on Wednesday (March 20).

"In the course of responding to recent media inquiries, we discovered that Shohei has been the victim of a massive theft, and we are turning the matter over to the authorities," a statement obtained by ESPN from Berk Brettler LLP reads.

Ohtani's spokesman declined additional questions regarding the incident and didn't specify when they believe the alleged theft took place.

Ohtani, who spent his first six MLB seasons with the Los Angeles Angels, announced his decision to sign with the Dodgers in a post shared on his Instagram account Saturday (December 9). The Japanese native is arguably the biggest star in baseball as one of the league's best starting pitchers and hitters.

Ohtani led his country to a World Baseball Classic last March, days before his second AL MVP season in which he hit for a .304 average with a league-best 44 home runs and 95 RBIs and recorded a 10-5 record with a 3.14 ERA and 167 strikeouts in 23 starts and 132.0 innings pitched in 2023. The Japanese star signed a record-setting $700 million deal to join the Dodgers this offseason -- having previously spent his entire MLB career with the Los Angeles Angels -- which included the team deferring $68 million of the $70 million annual salary in an effort to have more spending room.

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