Shohei Ohtani will sign deal worth at least $600 million next offseason, ESPN pundit says
For now, Shohei Ohtani is a Los Angeles Angel, but that can change after this season.
The elite starting pitcher, who is also an elite hitter, will hit the free agent market after this season, and with his once-in-a-lifetime skill, he may very well break the bank.
ESPN's Buster Olney says Ohtani is going to shatter the record for the biggest deal held by current teammate Mike Trout, who inked a 12-year, $426 million contract in 2019.
“The contract that he is gonna get is gonna start with the number six — $600 million,” Olney predicted on ESPN's “Get Up” on opening day.
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Olney also believes Ohtani will stay in Los Angeles but move to the National League.
“It's amazing when you talk to folks around baseball how many believe that Ohtani is gonna wind up with the Dodgers next year,” Olney said. “During the offseason, LA really paired back on its spending. They clearly were preparing for a big move in the upcoming offseason. That'll be Ohtani … because he brings to the table something we've never seen before. This great two-way player and the most marketable player in the world.”
Ohtani is making $30 million this season, the highest salary ever for an arbitration-eligible player, surpassing Mookie Betts‘ $27 million for the 2020 season.
His $24.5 million raise for this season is also the highest ever. Ohtani made $5.5 million last season.
Ohtani has more than lived up to expectations since he joined the major leagues in 2018.
Dubbed the “Japanese Babe Ruth” when he arrived, he was named the American League Rookie of the Year with a .285 average and .925 OPS while pitching to a 3.31 ERA and striking out 11.0 batters per nine innings. He became the first player in MLB history to hit at least 20 home runs and strike out at least 60 batters in the same season.
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Ohtani underwent Tommy John surgery before the 2019 season, which kept him from pitching that year. He suffered another injury in 2020 that limited him to pitching in just 1.2 innings.
But he was the unanimous AL MVP in 2021 with 46 homers — the third most in baseball — and 100 RBIs with a .965 OPS. He also recorded a 3.18 ERA, which was the eighth-best mark in the AL among pitchers with at least 130 innings thrown.
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Last year, his 2.33 ERA was the sixth-best in baseball, while his .875 OPS was the 10th-highest in the majors, proving that the previous year was no fluke. If it weren't for Aaron Judge‘s race for a Triple Crown while tying Roger Maris for the most home runs in a single season by an American League player, Ohtani would have won the MVP again.