Shohei Ohtani is in line to become the highest-paid player in all of baseball, and deservedly so. The reigning American League MVP is having another exceptional season and is a favorite to repeat the achievement this year. Winning back-to-back MVPs would place Ohtani in a league of his own and would create a bidding war among the MLB's richest organizations.
It's hard to determine the market value of a player of Shohei Ohtani's caliber. No player since Babe Ruth has been so dominant on the pitching and hitting side. There are no comparisons in modern-day baseball for a player possessing his skillset. In a recent article, MLB insider Jon Heyman added his views on the player's future contract.
"Having a second straight MVP-type season — will surely seek to become the first $50 million (or more) player as a 2024 free agent," wrote Heyman.
Heyman had previously mentioned the outlandish $50 million figure in an earlier tweet in June. With Juan Soto recently rejecting nearly half a billion dollars from the Washington Nationals, that figure may not seem so ludacris anymore.
"Angels can’t let Ohtani get away, can they? But if they sign him for fair value — $50M is about right? — they’ll have 3 players making $120M. Can they win like that? A close look." - Jon Heyman
Shohei Ohtani is currently one of the bargains of the season. The Los Angeles Angels have him on a $5.5 million salary this year after signing him to a 2-year, $8.5 million deal. Next year, Ohtani will be eligible for salary arbitration before becoming a free agent at the end of the 2023 season.
The Los Angeles Angels chose not to deal Shohei Ohtani during the August trade deadline but were apparently listening to offers. The New York Yankees, San Diego Padres, and Chicago White Sox were some of the teams interested in the two-way Japanese phenom.
Shohei Ohtani is one of the bargains of the season with a $5.5 million 2022 salary
Max Scherzer, the highest paid player in the majors, is currently earning $43.3 million yearly. Gerrit Cole of the Yankees is second with a salary of $36 million this season.
Mike Trout, Ohtani's teammate, is third on the list after signing a massive 12-year, $426 million contract. That deal, along with Anthony Rendon's, could be a major hurdle if the Angels hope to re-sign Ohtani. Trout and Rendon alone account for approximately $75 million of the Angels payroll.
"IT IS GONE!!! #GoHalos" - Los Angeles Angels
If Ohtani were to sign a $50 million yearly deal with the Angels, Ohtani, Rendon, and Trout would account for $125 million in payroll obligations. To put that into perspective, 11 teams in the majors have a total payroll of less than $125 million this year. Five of those teams currently have better records than the Angels.
It is difficult to see how the Angels can hold on to Shohei Ohtani. The math doesn't add up. Where is the money to invest in pitching?
Baseball is a team game, and the Angels' gamble of investing heavily in a few big-name stars has failed miserably. It may be time for Arte Moreno and the Angels to cut their losses and rebuild organically in the coming years.