Shohei Ohtani, the foreign two-way phenom for the Los Angeles Angels. He can hit and do it well. He can pitch and do it well. Ohtani, 28, is entering his sixth season with the Angels. Despite rostering both him and another generational talent, Mike Trout, the Angels have struggled to make the postseason. In fact, Ohtani has not made the playoffs in his first five years, Trout has made it once since his career began in 2012.
After a player has completed six seasons in the major leagues, they are eligible for free agency. They have completed their six years of service time. They can make their money. An elite hitter is highly-coveted, an elite pitcher is highly-coveted. Shohei Ohtani is two in one…Would he be tempted to stay with a team who can’t win with two generational guys?
Shohei Ohtani is a Transcendent Talent: 1 of 1
Ohtani is going to command a contract that will surpass any player in MLB history. This is obvious. Babe Ruth pitched and hit, but unlike Ohtani, he did not do both simultaneously. It was also a much different time in the sport, I think we can all agree.
Despite early critiques, he completely silenced them as his inaugural 2018 season resulted in an American League Rookie of the Year award. He won his first MVP in 2021, posting a .965 OPS at the plate to go along with a 3.51 ERA, 10.8 strikeouts per 9, and a 3.52 FIP in 130 innings. It took Aaron Judge‘s historic 2022 season to prevent Ohtani from repeating. In fact, he was better on the mound in 2022. Dropping his ERA and FIP to 2.33 and 2.40 respectively. Elite numbers on both sides.
According to Spotrac, Trout, Mookie Betts, Judge, Manny Machado, and Francisco Lindor have the highest total contracts overall. Trout signed a 12-year, 426.5-million-dollar contract prior to the 2019 season. Gerrit Cole, 10th on the list, is the highest-paid pitcher here. He signed a nine-year, 324-million-dollar contract prior to the 2020 season.
I think it’s fair to assume that Shohei Ohtani will be the first $500 million dollar guy. He will be locked up for at least 10 years by his next team; he will make 48-52 million dollars a year. The big-time question is, where will Ohtani go?
His Next Team???
Shohei Ohtani will sign his groundbreaking contract with……the Los Angeles Dodgers! It just makes too much sense.
One of Ohtani’s driving home points for choosing the Angels was its proximity to his native Japan. He turned down both New York teams for this reason.
The Dodgers have had a penchant for signing big names. Second on the aforementioned Spotrac list was superstar Mookie Betts. The team traded for and subsequently signed him to long-term deal before the 2020 season. They brought over Atlanta Brave stalwart, Freddie Freeman, prior to the 2022 season. Freeman’s contract was relatively transient, six-years, 162 million signed by the then 32-year-old.
The Dodgers have untraditionally passed on their own players despite having the resources to sign them. They let Corey Seager and Trea Turner walk in back-to-back off-seasons. This was odd, especially in the case for Turner. They brought him and Max Scherzer over from Washington at the 2021 trade deadline. By the way, they let Scherzer walk too.
A.J. Preller, general manager of the San Diego Padres, has the propensity to spend on players. Fernando Tatis Jr., Manny Machado, and Xander Bogaerts are paid and locked up. The Dodgers can’t afford to stay patient forever. They’re waiting for the end of the 2023 season, when their guy (Ohtani) becomes available.
Shohei Ohtani is both great and marketable. The World Baseball Classic has just taken the baseball world and sports world by storm. Team Japan has won their third WBC championship, captivating both Japanese and American fans alike. Poetically, it ended with Ohtani striking his teammate Trout out on a 3-2 count. Baseball couldn’t have written a better script.
This notion of captivating an entire nation of baseball fans only accelerates the urgency for his bid. Despite baseball being behind football and maybe basketball in popularity, Ohtani is quickly becoming a household name. The country of Japan treats its baseball stars as gods on Earth, this does nothing but benefit the team that signs him.
In a sport that’s dominated by big markets such as New York or Los Angeles, this will only widen the gap between these markets. If you’re the Los Angeles Dodgers, think of how fruitful the jersey sales, ticket sales, and regional broadcast numbers will become. Dodger games would start at 11 AM over in Japan, thus there’s no conflict of interest.
The organization could cash in for around 10-12 years. Unlike the Angels, nobody forecasts the Dodgers to miss the playoffs throughout the entirety of his contract length. The pull from having “Shohei Ohtani, a two-way phenom,” will only heighten if he’s a major piece of a playoff team. As the stage gets bigger, he gets bigger.
There is only one Shohei Ohtani. There will never be another one that produces at this level. At the start of the 2024 free agency period, teams will be bidding for this guy like no other bid in history. Shohei Ohtani will change your franchise, we’ll see what team that ends up being.