Angels star Shohei Ohtani signs endorsement deal with New Balance

Los Angeles Angels pitcher Shohei Ohtani (17) waves to fans as he waits on deck.
Angels star Shohei Ohtani waves to fans as he waits on deck against the Minnesota Twins on Sept. 25.
(Jim Mone / Associated Press)

Shohei Ohtani has changed teams. No, not that one.

The Angels’ two-way All-Star signed a long-term endorsement deal with New Balance, dumping Asics after an eight-year partnership. An announcement was made Tuesday morning.

The move comes two weeks before Ohtani is scheduled to report for spring training for his sixth — and possibly final — season with the Angels. The 2021 American League MVP and 2022 runner-up is set to become the most sought-after free agent next offseason.

Angels star Shohei Ohtani in a New Balance shirt.
(New Balance)

Ohtani, 28, will make $30 million with the Angels this season before hitting free agency and perhaps commanding the largest contract in North American sports history.

For now, he’s only changing apparel sponsors.

Ohtani had been signed with Asics, a Japanese sportswear company, since 2014 — his second year in the Nippon Professional Baseball league.

He continued working with Asics after jumping to Major League Baseball, where the outfitter doesn’t have a strong presence, and signing with the Angels before the 2018 campaign. Asics supplied him with signature cleats, gloves and cleats.

Shohei Ohtani holds a pair of New Balance shoes.
(New Balance)

Boston-based New Balance already has endorsement deals with players across the majors, most notably Francisco Lindor of the New York Mets. Other prominent New Balance athletes include the Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard and track and field star Sydney McLaughlin.

The company said it would work with Ohtani “on a variety of campaigns across the brand” starting with a limited-edition 574 cleat that will launch for $120 in February as Ohtani prepares to represent Japan in the World Baseball Classic before the regular season.