The angels and Shohei Ohtani avoided perhaps the most unique arbitration case in baseball history by agreeing to a one-year, $30 million pact for the 2023 season. Ohtani is still expected to reach free agency after the 2023 campaign. Ohtani is represented by CAA Sports.
The two-way star becomes the 20th baseball player to receive an average annual value of $30 million on a contract, and that $30 million figure also sets two other notable thresholds. Ohtani will now receive the highest salary ever for an arbitration-eligible player, and he’s also getting the biggest year-over-year increase for an arbitration-eligible player, after earning $5.5 million this season. That $5.5 million salary was set in an earlier extension that avoided arbitration, as Ohtani and the Angels agreed to a two-year, $8.5 million contract in February 2021 that covered both first of his three years eligible for arb.
At the time of this deal, Ohtani has only pitched 1 2/3 innings total during the 2019-20 seasons, due to Tommy John surgery and then flexor strain. He was also coming off a lackluster year at the plate, hitting just .190/.291/.366 in 175 plate appearances during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. Although Ohtani was not the only player to struggle under the unusual circumstances of the 2020 campaign, there was speculation that his 2018 rookie season could have been his peak, and that Ohtani would be better served by choosing to hitting or throwing.
Instead, Ohtani is bouncing back with two of the most extraordinary seasons in baseball history. Since Opening Day 2021, Ohtani has hit .267 / .366 / .560 with 80 homers in 1,282 plate appearances, while posting a 2.72 ERA and a dazzling secondary yardage range over 291 1/3 innings. After earning AL MVP honors in 2021, it looks like Ohtani will be a runner-up at worst in this year’s MVP race (due to Judge Aaronof all time in a season), and he will also earn a good chunk of the votes in the race for the AL Cy Young Award.
With that in mind, it’s safe to say that $30 million is still a bargain from the Angels’ perspective, considering Ohtani would be earning high salaries if he was “just” an All-Star hitter or ” only” an All-Star pitcher. . It would have been fascinating to see what refereeing numbers the Angels and Ohtani’s side would have submitted in this unprecedented scenario, but this deal avoids that possibility.
Los Angeles now has three players earning at least $30 million in 2023, as Ohtani joins Mike Trout ($35.45 million) and Anthony Rendon ($38 million). In practical terms, that doesn’t change much for the Angels’ payroll situation, as the team understandably figured they would pay Ohtani some kind of mammoth salary in his final ARB-eligible year. . In pure dollars and cents, that’s actually not much of a difference to the Angels’ 2022 payroll, as the statement since Justin Upton earned $28 million in the final year of his contract with the club.
Ohtani’s future beyond 2023 remains a mystery, as he will head into free agency likely still in his prime both on the mound and on the plate. Although Ohtani turns 29 in July, his two-way ability could still earn him the biggest contract in baseball history, topping the $365 million in new money awarded to Mookie Bets in his extension with the Dodgers before the 2020 season.
By making a deal with Ohtani now, the Angels front office gets a big question mark settled ahead of what could be one of the most uncertain offseasons in franchise history. Owner Arte Moreno is eyeing a possible sale, and with this situation lingering within the organization, it’s unclear how aggressive General Manager Perry Minasian will be allowed to be in upgrading the roster. The Halos are going through their seventh straight losing season, so while a dismantling isn’t out of the question, it’s also possible that Moreno will order one last push to try and make it back to the playoffs one last time under his ownership.
Until there’s more clarity with the potential sale, it’s hard to gauge what will happen with Ohtani in Anaheim. Given that Ohtani has already expressed his unhappiness at the prospect of losing, it seems hard to believe he would agree to an extension unless he was convinced the team was heading in the right direction – even if a new owner takes over in the 7-8, their influence might not be apparent in the short time before Ohtani can test the open market. A new owner could bring a new drive to break the luxury tax threshold, and so that wouldn’t necessarily be a barrier to adding a massive Ohtani deal worth over $40 million. (at least) in AAV in addition to long-term trout. and Rendon contracts.
A trade can’t be ruled out either, although that seems like the least likely scenario given Moreno has vetoed any possibility of Ohtani being traded before the latest trade deadline. As noted Athletic’s Fabian Ardaya, Ohtani’s early pricing for 2023 gives all interested business partners more time to plan deals, but not having Ohtani on the list could also impact buying interest in any new potential owner. From a practical baseball standpoint, it’s also difficult to gauge what exactly a trade for Ohtani would look like, given his elite two-way talent, but also just one year of control remaining. .