Will Shohei Ohtani Become Baseball's First Half-Billion Dollar Contract?

By on April 5, 2023 in ArticlesSports News

Since he made his Major League debut in March 2018, Shohei Ohtani has defied expectations. He was already a superstar in Japan, and he quickly gained popularity in the United States. After all, how many guys play as a pitcher and a designated hitter — and excel at both?

Ohtani won the American League Rookie of the Year in 2018 and was named AL MVP in 2021. He nearly pulled off back-to-back MVPs, finishing second in 2022 voting (and fourth in Cy Young voting, to boot). He's been an All-Star the past two seasons and looks poised for plenty more appearances throughout his career.

To oversimplify things, Ohtani is unlike anything the league has seen. So perhaps it's fitting that he'll likely score a contract unlike any given out in MLB history.

Mary DeCicco/WBCI/MLB Photos via Getty Images

During the World Baseball Classic, Ohtani struck out his Los Angeles Angels teammate Mike Trout to finish Japan's victory over the United States. It was a dramatic final at-bat, one Japan first baseman Kazuma Okamoto called "like Manga." And much like a comic that's been adapted into an action movie, Ohtani is about to make millions.

That massive deal probably won't come from the Angels. In 2019, the team gave Trout a contract worth $426.5 million over 12 years. That's an MLB record, though the market has only grown in the past few years. Unfortunately, despite sporting two of the league's top players, the Angels haven't seen sustained success. And it appears Ohtani is fed up with losing, which means he could score a huge deal after hitting free agency next winter.

Not every team can afford to spend $500 million on a player, of course, but Ohtani will have several suitors. Expect the New York Mets, New York Yankees, and Los Angeles Dodgers to be at the top of the list, though any team that reaches the postseason this year could think they're just one hitter or pitcher away from a championship and go for the gusto.

Signing Ohtani also opens up the possibility for additional brand partnerships. Within the past year, he's earned an estimated $20 million in annual endorsement deals, tops in the majors. He's partnered with Fanatics, New Era, Seiko, Topps, Asics, New Balance, and a whole host of other companies.

Whichever team ends up signing him will get a tremendously talented and popular player. And hopefully, Ohtani can finally reach the postseason in his new home. Baseball fans deserve to see as much of him as they can get.

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