The first offseason under the new collective bargaining agreement between MLB and the MLB Players Association has been spectacular to say the least.
With working peace guaranteed for at least a few seasons, the team has handed out massive long-term contracts with staggering numbers that feel like every week. Aaron Judge received $360 million from the Yankees. Shortstops Trea Turner, Xander Bogaerts and Carlos Correa all signed contracts that would last at least his 11 years. Correa got his two after medical officials terminated his contract with the Giants (and we’ll see how things go with the Mets).
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And even with all that unfolding, there was one question deep in the minds of sportspeople: If the Angels can’t extend Shohei Ohtani’s contract between now and the end of the 2023 season, more on this later. I’ll explain. What happens if Ohtani becomes a free agent next offseason?
“Honestly, he’s the most unique free agent in the history of the game,” MLB Network analyst Dan O’Dowd, who was the GM of the Rockies for 15 years, said in a recent phone interview. “So we are all in uncharted territory.”
we certainly do. It’s no exaggeration to say that Ohtani will be the most anticipated, attractive, and desired free agent of baseball’s free agency era.
Ohtani won AL MVP in 2021 and put in an unprecedented performance as both an elite hitter and pitcher. Aaron Judge has taken a truly historic effort to prevent him from winning the award again in 2022. 2022 has done better than the previous year. After a total of 9.0 bWAR in 2021 (4.9 and 4.1 for him, respectively), in 2022 he posted a total of 9.6 bWAR (3.4 as a fielder and 6.2 as a pitcher). Vote for Al Say Young.
It’s really mind-boggling, and talking about Ohtani and his talents tends to get you off topic. But the question of the day: What will happen to Ohtani’s free agency next offseason?
First of all, it looks lucrative for the superstar, who turns 29 this July.
“One signature pays out two positions,” says O’Dowd. “I think he’ll be an elite defender as a corner outfielder as well as a pitcher, at-bat, and baserunner. He’s very unique. He’s a unicorn in every definition of the word baseball. I don’t think you can see his contract even in the context of the player.”
Let’s start with pitching and look at some numbers.
Carlos Rodon is about a year and a half older than Ohtani. Both were injured for most of 2020, but have been prominent on the mound the last two seasons. Here are the total numbers…
Rodon: 10.5 bWAR/11.1 fWAR, 2.67 ERA, 2.42 FIP, 12.2 K/9, 310 2/3 innings
Otani: 10.3 bWAR/8.6 fWAR, 2.70 ERA, 2.98 FIP, 11.4 K/9, 296 1/3 innings
Pretty similar, right? Rodon was better, but not as big. If Ohtani were a starting pitcher with those numbers, it’s easy to imagine him getting a contract that’s equal to or better than the six-year, $162 million free-agent deal Rodon got from the Yankees. Justin Verlander and Jacob deGrom also scored big deals this offseason, but Verlander’s age and deGrom’s health issues eroded potential comparisons with Ohtani. However, both trades speak to a premium team with starters with high numbers of swings and mistakes.
And aggressively? Oh yeah, he’s also an elite slugger. You can’t really compare Ohtani as a designated hitter to a shortstop signed this offseason. They play an excellent defensive position and play it well. Instead, let’s take a look at where Ohtani ranks as the heart bat across the sport.
Over the past two seasons, he has ranked second in the majors in home runs (80), second in triples (14), seventh in slugging percentage (.554), seventh in total bases (622), and eighth in OPS+ (152). ) was. Heck, he’s 18th in stolen bases, and 37. Totally elite production. That’s the kind of production team we love to add through free agency, especially as left-handed bats for a few days after the end of a shift.
Now let’s talk about another number. Total contract amount.
Judge’s $360 million was the largest deal given to a free agent. Mike Trout ($426.5 million) and Mookie Betts ($365 million) have the larger total, but both contracts were signed as extensions rather than open market deals. If Ohtani is healthy and even close to what he’s done in the last few seasons, he’ll overwhelm the judges.
Where do bidding stop? $375 million? Is it about 4 million? Ohtani is unlikely to exceed the $426.5 million trout total. And if we’re already approaching ridiculous rates, why would bidding stop there? Around 4.5 million? more?
Ohtani is no unicorn on the pitch. He’s baseball’s most marketable superstar, more truly global than any other player, and he’s just scratched the surface. There’s a reason the Angels haven’t traded him yet, but jump-starting their much-needed franchise overhaul with the sheer amount of talent he’ll be at the helm of is all baseball in the world. There seems to be no limit to the value (revenue, exposure, etc.) that Ohtani in 10-12 years can bring to the franchise.
I asked O’Dowd if he had a number in mind.
“I haven’t really guessed about it yet,” he said. “But again, he’s a very unique player. So it’s hard to even think of a player who could win that kind of money, but he’s a very special player.”
Now for the last question. Where will Otani end up?
Before answering that, we must talk about angels. Ohtani’s current team intends to do everything possible to keep him in Anaheim for the rest of his career. It seems unlikely that he will sign another deal with the Angels. He’s made it pretty clear that he’s frustrated with the constant losses and not even being able to sniff a playoff spot. Yes, and it’s kind of a final push to see if a wildcard run changes his mind. Not impossible, but unlikely.
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He wants to win, and the Angels haven’t even hit . 500 in his five seasons with the club. In 2022, the team won his first place in the AL West, where he finished 33 games, and the third wildcard spot, where he finished 13 games. Even the 2023 postseason push will only serve to mask the bigger problems looming over the organization, and Ohtani knows it. Do all these things happen when
The safe bet is for Ohtani to reach free agency.
So which teams will enter the debate? Of course, all teams want Ohtani and most owners can financially make it happen, but the better question is: are as follows: Where would Ohtani want to play?He can sign amazing deals with any number of teams, so he can put his name on both his location and price.
“He will probably be very specific in terms of criteria like market size, winning ability, sustained winning ability. O’Dowd said.
“Obviously, very few organizations have the financial capacity to play at that level.”
The Mets have their numbers mixed. We might be able to change the informal name of the upper level of the luxury tax from the “Steve Cohen tax” to the “Cohen/Otani tax”. The club’s two highest-paid players, Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander, will only overlap for one year as they will be off the books after the 2024 season.
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The Dodgers have always coveted Ohtani. The Yankees are no different, but with Judge and Rodon’s long-term contracts, Ohtani may be harder to come by. The Giants are clearly burning a lot of money with holes in their pockets. The idea of playing for the Mariners at the same stadium where Ichiro was inducted into the Hall of Fame would appeal to both club and player.
Most of the big deals have been handed over by teams closer to the coast, but Ohtani is the type of player that could appeal to any team in the country. The Cubs come to mind immediately, and perhaps the White Sox can finally be persuaded to make a big deal (did you know? Probably not.). And maybe don’t count the cardinals. You must have seen how much he enjoyed playing for a team that did well.
Yes, 2023 is here and both the Angels and Ohtani are officially ticking the clock.