Two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani and the Dodgers are in agreement on a $700 MM pact that will keep the two-time MVP in LA through 2034.
After a false start on Friday, SP/DH Shohei Ohtani now officially has a new team. The two-way superstar and the Los Angeles Dodgers are in agreement on a 10-year, $700 MM pact that would keep the two-time MVP in the Los Angeles area through 2034. We’ll let you soak in that total dollar amount for a minute.
Sho Me the Money
Ohtani’s $700 MM contract is by far the largest in MLB history, smashing the previous record of $426.5 MM over 12 years set by OF Mike Trout and the Los Angeles Angels before the 2019 season. Despite Ohtani’s wishes for his free agency proceedings to remain quiet, the Toronto Blue Jays and the Dodgers were long been rumored to be the favorites to land the Japanese superstar. However, after comments from Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts in a recent interview disclosing the team had indeed met with the free agent, the Blue Jays emerged as the frontrunner to sign Ohtani.
But what would MLB free agency be without a little excitement and confusion? Fans allegedly found Ohtani’s flight from Anaheim to Toronto, and social media exploded with many anticipating his signing upon arrival. As it turns out, the most tracked flight in the world was not carrying the two-time MVP as many had assumed, but Shark Tank’s Robert Herjavec, who treated the baseball world with an epic Instagram post imploring the Blue Jays sign his five-year-old son for $600 MM instead.
In a shocking turn of events, the Los Angeles Dodgers swooped in and inked the foreign superstar to the largest contract in MLB history on Saturday night, as announced by the man himself on Instagram and Jeff Passan. As Passan notes, the guarantee is not only the largest in baseball history, but the largest in North American sports history. So much for the arm injury hurting Ohtani’s maximum earning power.
One of a Kind
Since 2021, Ohtani has been out-of-this-world great- pitching at a near Cy Young level and winning two out of three MVP award in the process, finishing second in AL MVP voting in 2022 behind a historic season from OF Aaron Judge. In his past 447 games, Ohtani has clubbed 124 home runs, tallied 290 runs batted in, and posted a .277/.379/.585 triple slash line, good for a 161 OPS+. At the same time, Ohtani has commanded a 2.84 ERA, 1.051 WHIP, and 542 SO in 428.1 IP. He was worth 10 WAR this past season.
The addition of Ohtani is a massive one for the Dodgers. Financially, the deal brings the projected club’s payroll from $158 MM to, at most, $228 MM for 2024. It remains to be seen what Ohtani’s AAV will be, but Jeff Passan reports the deal contains a lot of deferred money in order to keep the Dodgers competitive during Ohtani’s tenure. It will be interesting to see how the Dodgers plan to retain SP Walker Buehler, who is expected to rake in a handsome salary as one of the game’s premier pitchers and is a free agent next winter. While he’ll be unable to pitch until at least 2025 following an elbow injury in the second half of 2023, Ohtani should slot in nicely at the top of the lineup and create one of the deadliest three-punch combos in the National league: OF Mookie Betts, Ohtani, and 1B Freddie Freeman will hit at the top of the Dodgers lineup.
It is basically impossible for Ohtani to live up to the contract from a value standpoint, but clearly the Dodgers don’t care. Ohtani is the biggest star in the world, and fans in Japan will likely root for Ohtani’s new team. Like the man himself, many of his fans will switch their jersey color accents from red to blue. The marketing basically covers itself.
More importantly, the Dodgers are doing whatever it takes to win another World Series, maybe ten more. When a team with a fearsome lineup aims to improve, pretty much the only way to do so is to add a superstar. Roles players do not help as much when the upgrades are marginal, while star-level production makes a tangible difference.
While the New York Yankees are back to being the Evil Empire, the Dodgers are not ready to concede their spot as the most powerful team in the universe. We have a true heavyweight battle on our hands.
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