Shohei ohtani sweepstakes

How Big Could Shohei Ohtani’s Free-Agent Contract Be?

Chris Elwell

Free agent contracts have reached unimaginable totals in MLB over the past five seasons, with superstars around the league continuing to set records for the length and value of their deals. Teams have realized the importance of locking up their franchise players under long-term deals, satisfying both the team and the player as the value of signing a star grows.

Nine of the 10 largest contracts in terms of overall money signed for have been agreed upon since 2019, setting records for the highest total earnings in a contract, annual average value, and the number of years on the deal. 

Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout holds the current record for the largest contract in MLB history, with a 12-year, $426.5 million deal that keeps him under control through the 2030 season. It has been the biggest contract since it was agreed upon in 2019, but it seems his current teammate is going to shatter that record and sign a massive deal worth the most money in North American sports history.

Two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani is set to become a free agent after the 2023 season, and it has already been rumored that he will receive offers for over $500 million. Ohtani has lived up to all the hype that surrounded him when he first came to the league from Japan, displaying his once-in-a-lifetime talent which has turned him into the most exciting player baseball has ever seen.

Photo Courtesy of FOX News

Just how good is Shohei Ohtani?

Ohtani’s skillset is unparalleled, being the ace of the Angels rotation and one of the most feared hitters in baseball alongside Trout. His speed on the bases has become somewhat of an afterthought due to his dominance at the plate and on the mound, but his career-high of 28.8 feet per second is considered borderline elite speed, as well as his 4.14 second time from home plate to first base, good for the 10th fastest mark of any player in 2023. 

After winning the American League MVP in 2021, Ohtani followed with another incredible season, in which he finished second in MVP voting, trailing only Aaron Judge. His consistency on a yearly basis both at the plate and on the mound is part of what makes him so special, as he has put together another impressive season so far in 2023.

Primarily serving as the designated hitter for Los Angeles, Ohtani has continued to be an All-Star caliber offensive player, hitting 16 home runs in 61 games with an OPS of .904. His presence in the middle of the Angels lineup is a major cause of concern for pitchers, trying to navigate around two of the top 5 players in the league back-to-back. 

Photo Courtesy of Bleacher Report 

Since coming to MLB in 2018, he has proved to be one of the better hitters in the AL with a career 137 wRC+ and an average 37 homers over a 162-game span. Ohtani has made consistent hard contact, averaging 92.7 miles per hour exit velocity for his career, reaching as high as 119.1 mph in 2023. His offensive skills have made him one of the best designated hitters in baseball, and combining that with his ability to throw with high velocity on the mound has made him into the do it all superstar he has become.

How Good is Ohtani on the Mound?

After only 1.2 innings pitched in 2020, Ohtani came back from Tommy John surgery and pitched himself into the category of the best pitchers in the AL. He features a dynamic four-pitch mix, with a fastball that reaches triple digits, one of the best sliders in baseball, a curveball, and a cutter that has become a major part of his arsenal. At the top of an Angels rotation that has struggled to support a high-powered offense, Ohtani has emerged as a frontline starter that can take the mound and dominate any lineup across the league.

Finishing 4th in the AL Cy Young voting in 2022, Ohtani posted his best season on the mound, marking career-highs in wins, starts, innings pitched, strikeouts, and ERA. His ability to get swings and misses has been a major part of his success, averaging over 10 strikeouts per 9 in every season of his MLB career.

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His dominance has continued into this season, leading the league with a minimal 5.5 hits per 9 and averaging 12.2 K/9. Ohtani’s velocity has continued to climb after surgery, with his fastball sitting at 97.4 miles per hour, and his sinker and cutter averaging 94.3 and 90.2 miles per hour, respectively. Hitters have struggled to barrel the ball against Ohtani, who currently sits in the 97th percentile of average exit velocity across the league, as well as the 87th percentile in xSLG. 

What teams are in the Ohtani sweepstakes?

Teams across the league are preparing for the offseason to give Ohtani their best possible offer, which could easily eclipse $500 million. His incredible level of talent is going to land him the biggest contract in MLB history, leaving a small list of teams that could land the two-way superstar.

Photo Courtesy of CBS Sports

When first signing in the majors, Ohtani voiced his desire to play on the West Coast and decided to sign with Los Angeles. If he wants to stay out west, the Dodgers could potentially be in play, after they let Trea Turner sign a massive $300 million deal with Philadelphia rather than re-sign him over the offseason. 

If Ohtani decides to leave Los Angeles, big market teams like the Yankees, Mets, Blue Jays, Red Sox, and Astros could end up winning the sweepstakes and signing the best player in baseball. Only one contract in baseball history has ever been signed for over $400 million, but for a talent like Ohtani that is an All-Star caliber player on both sides of the ball, teams are going to make him their best offer to potentially hit in the middle of their order and be the ace of their rotation for the next 8-10 years. 

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