The most unique player in baseball history has joined one of the most storied franchises in the world — for more money than anyone could have possibly imagined.
Shohei Ohtani, the transcendent two-way talent who spent the past three years redefining what was possible at his sport’s highest level, agreed to a 10-year, $700 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday, revealing his decision on his Instagram page.
“To all the fans and everyone involved in the baseball world, I apologize for taking so long to come to a decision,” Ohtani wrote. “I have decided to choose the Dodgers as my next team.”
Ohtani’s contract is the largest in baseball history by more than $250 million, topping the 12-year, $426.5 million extension given in 2019 to Mike Trout, his now-former teammate with the Los Angeles Angels. It also easily topped the $450 million deal signed by Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes to become the largest in North American professional sports history. The $70 million average annual salary eclipses the previous Major League Baseball record of $43.3 million for Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer and is more than the 2023 Opening Day payrolls of the Baltimore Orioles ($60.9 million) and Oakland Athletics ($56.9 million).
The deal — still not announced by the Dodgers, who must create room for Ohtani on their 40-man roster and have other formalities to work through — does not include any opt-outs.
Another source stated the “majority” of Ohtani’s salary will be deferred in order to mitigate what the Dodgers are charged toward their competitive balance tax payroll on a yearly basis, giving them more freedom to add players over the life of Ohtani’s contract. Those deferrals, according to the source, were Ohtani’s idea.
“This is a unique, historic contract for a unique, historic player,” Nez Balelo, Ohtani’s agent at CAA, said in a statement, adding: “Shohei is thrilled to be a part of the Dodgers organization. He is excited to begin this partnership, and he structured his contract to reflect a true commitment from both sides to long-term success.”
Ohtani, 29, is the first player in baseball history to be named unanimous MVP on multiple occasions, an honor bestowed upon him twice over the past three years. During that stretch, he defied conventionality by excelling as both a pitcher and a hitter, becoming MLB’s first two-way player since Babe Ruth dabbled in both roles more than a century ago.
Only a tender elbow could stop him.
Ohtani learned of a new tear in his ulnar collateral ligament — his second such injury in five years — on Aug. 23, near the tail end of a third consecutive standout season for the Angels. Nearly four weeks later, he underwent what was vaguely described as some hybrid version of Tommy John surgery. The man who performed it, Dodgers team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache, wrote in a statement that Ohtani would be ready to hit “without any restrictions come opening day of 2024” and resume his role as a two-way player by 2025, but details of his procedure were elusive.
Ohtani’s highly anticipated run at free agency also played out in secrecy, with little publicly known about his preferences beyond a desire to continue his two-way aspirations.