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Shohei Ohtani agrees to a record $700 million, 10-year contract with the Dodgers

The Los Angeles Angels' Shohei Ohtani smiles before a game on Aug. 30 in Philadelphia.
Matt Slocum
/
AP
The Los Angeles Angels' Shohei Ohtani smiles before a game on Aug. 30 in Philadelphia.

NEW YORK — Shohei Ohtaniagreed Saturday to a record $700 million, 10-year contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The deal was announced after days of speculation over where the unique, two-way star would continue his career after six seasons with the Los Angeles Angels.

"This is a unique, historic contract for a unique, historic player," Ohtani's agent, Nez Balelo of CAA Sports, said in a statement. "He is excited to begin this partnership, and he structured his contract to reflect a true commitment from both sides to long-term success."

Ohtani's total was 64% higher than baseball's previous record, a $426.5 million, 12-year deal for Angels outfielder Mike Trout that began in 2019.

His $70 million average salary is 62% above the previous high of $43,333,333, shared by pitchers Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander with deals they struck when signing with the New York Mets. Ohtani's average salary nearly doubles the roughly $42.3 million he earned with the Angels.

Ohtani's decision came six years and one day after he first agreed to his deal with Angels.

Ohtani has redefined modern baseball since he chose the Angels as his first major league team. Nobody has come close to matching his simultaneous achievements at the plate and on the mound, becoming one of the majors' elite players in both roles whenever healthy. Along the way, he's become one of the most marketable athletes in the world, sure to boost ticket sales, TV ratings and sponsorship revenues wherever he goes.

He was a unanimous AL MVP in 2021 and 2023 — he finished second in 2022 — winning this year despite injuring his elbow in late August and an oblique muscle in early September.

Ahead of his 30th birthday on July 5, he has a .274 average with 171 homers, 437 RBIs and 86 stolen bases along with a 39-19 record with a 3.01 ERA and 608 strikeouts in 481 2/3 innings. Ohtani has 34.7 Wins Above Replacement (WAR), per Baseball Reference.

The Halos are a perennial also-ran, both in the AL standings and in the Los Angeles market, but they won Ohtani's services in late 2017 partly by promising him the freedom to train and to play however he wanted. Ohtani immediately dazzled the entire sport in 2018, batting .285 with 22 homers and 61 RBIs as a designated hitter and going 4-2 with a 3.31 ERA and 63 strikeouts.

Ohtani won the AL Rookie of the Year award in 2017 despite making just one pitching appearance after early June due to an injured elbow ligament that required Tommy John surgery following the season. Ohtani made just two mound appearances in the next two years while continuing to play as the Angels' DH.

When his arm was finally healthy in 2021, Ohtani put together a season for the ages.

He won the AL MVP award with 46 homers and 100 RBIs at the plate while going 9-2 with a 3.18 ERA on the mound. He improved as a pitcher in 2022, going 15-9 with a 2.33 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP while still driving in 95 runs at the plate, but finished behind Aaron Judge in the MVP voting after the Yankees star hit an AL record 62 homers.

After winning the MVP award in the World Baseball Classic last March while leading Japan to victory — he struck out Trout to end the tournament — Ohtani maintained his two-way magnificence this year, hitting 44 homers with a career-high 1.066 OPS while going 10-5 with a 3.14 ERA before tearing his elbow ligament again on Aug. 23. He didn't hit after Sept. 3 because of the strained right oblique.

Along with his elbow injuries, Ohtani's transcendent success has come with another significant damper: He has never made the playoffs or even played on a winning team in the majors. Owner Arte Moreno's Angels haven't won more than 80 games or finished higher than third in the AL West during his tenure alongside Trout, a three-time AL MVP, and a perennially disappointing cast of supporting players.

Ohtani earned $42,269,259 in his six seasons with the Angels. After receiving a signing bonus of $2,315,000 with his initial deal, he had salaries of $545,000, $650,000, $259,259 (in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season), $3 million, $5.5 million and $30 million.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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The Associated Press