Dodgers likely will open 2025 season in Japan: 'It would make a lot of sense'

Los Angeles, CA - March 24: Shohei Ohtani greets former Angels team before the Los Angeles Dodgers.

While plans have not been finalized, the Dodgers likely will open their 2025 season with an international series in Japan, according to multiple people with knowledge of the situation not authorized to speak publicly.

Including the Dodgers in MLB’s 2025 Japan games became a logical decision after Japanese stars Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto signed with the club this offseason. In recent months, team officials had viewed their selection for the trip as a strong possibility.

On Sunday, USA Today reported that the Dodgers and Chicago Cubs have “been privately informed” that they have been selected to open the 2025 season in Tokyo.

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And while one person familiar the league’s selection process said a final pairing has “not been decided yet,” a source with the Dodgers described the team’s chances of being officially picked for the trip as the likely outcome.

“I have heard rumblings,” manager Dave Roberts said when asked about reports of the Japan series. “I hope we’re included. I know there’s nothing finalized yet. But obviously it would make a lot of sense.”

If the Dodgers are selected, they would become the first MLB team to open back-to-back seasons with overseas trips, following their two-game series against the San Diego Padres in Seoul last week.

Though there is no precedent for MLB sending a team on such lengthy journeys in consecutive years, there is also no rules in the collective bargaining agreement preventing it. Per the CBA, teams are only barred from participating “in more than a total of three (3) international play or domestic special events (combined) during the term” of the CBA, which runs from 2022-2026. Teams also can’t play more than one such event in any single season.

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One aspect of the trip that seems unlikely, according to a person with knowledge of the situation, is the Dodgers’ playing a potential exhibition game in Hokkaido, Japan, against Ohtani’s former NPB team, the Nippon-Ham Fighters. Ohtani's agent, Nez Balelo, had speculated about that possibility with Japanese reporters earlier this spring.

MLB has previously hosted regular-season games in Japan five times, including most recently in 2019.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.