Shohei Ohtani, the baseball star who can pitch and hit, surprised everyone in December 2023 by agreeing to a huge $700 million deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers. This contract is the biggest ever in North American sports, beating Patrick Mahomes' $503 million deal with the Kansas City Chiefs.
What's special about Ohtani's deal? Let's explore some important parts of the agreement.
A big surprise in Ohtani's deal is that most of the money, $680 million out of $700 million, will be paid later, not while he's playing. So, each year, he'll get $2 million from the Dodgers. These delayed payments start in 2034 and go on until 2043 when Ohtani will be 49.
Even though the team still has to consider $46 million for the luxury tax, this unusual setup gives the Dodgers more flexibility.
Why did Ohtani agree to delay getting most of his money? Well, his agent, Nez Balelo, says Ohtani did it to support the Dodgers in keeping a strong team and avoiding big fines for going over the luxury tax limit.
Ohtani trusts the Dodgers' owners and managers, and he's confident about staying healthy and performing well for a long time. He says it's not about the money, but about his love for the game and his goal to win championships.
Another cool thing about Ohtani's deal is that he has a full no-trade clause. This means he can say no to any trade they suggest. This gives him a lot of safety and control over what happens next. He can stick with the Dodgers for the whole contract or ask for a trade if he's not happy with the team or the city.
Check out All of Shohei Ohtani's hits at Dodger Stadium throughout his career!
Ohtani's contract also lets him decide if he wants to leave early. He has two chances to do this – one after the fifth year in 2028 and another after the eighth year in 2031. This means he can check out what other teams might offer him.
But here's the catch: if he chooses to leave, he won't get the rest of the money that was supposed to come later, which could be a lot. So, he needs to think hard about whether leaving is worth giving up all that money.
Ohtani's contract is not just big and unique; it's making history. He's the first MLB player to sign a deal worth over $600 million and the first to make more than $1 million every week.
In addition, he's also the first Japanese player with a contract over $100 million and the first to win MVP awards more than once. Ohtani is truly special, excelling as both a pitcher and a hitter. As a pitcher, he has a 3.01 ERA with 608 strikeouts, and as a hitter, he boasts a .291/.372/.592 slash line with 127 home runs and 308 RBIs.
His contract is changing the game for players who can both pitch and hit, showing they can be super valuable. This might encourage more players to try being great at both. It also shows how baseball is becoming a big deal in Asia, with Ohtani being a famous and marketable athlete globally.
This contract could shape the future of baseball, both in how the game is played and how it's seen around the world.
Baseball has seen some really big and lengthy contracts over the years. There are other notable contracts too, like Aaron Judge's 9-year, $360 million with the New York Yankees, Mike Trout's 12-year, $426.5 million with the Los Angeles Angels, Manny Machado's 10-year, $300 million with the San Diego Padres, and Fernando Tatis Jr.'s 14-year, $340 million, also with the Padres.
Back in 1977, Wayne Garland got the first 10-year deal, a $2.3 million contract with the Cleveland Guardians. Giancarlo Stanton set the record in 2015 with a 13-year, $325 million contract with the Miami Marlins, the longest at that time.
Keep in mind, that the list of highest-paid MLB players keeps changing as new contracts are signed each year.
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