Shohei Ohtani’s $700 million contract with Dodgers leaves everyone struggling for perspective

Let’s find a little perspective here. The Baltimore Orioles won 101 baseball games in 2023 with a roster full of exciting young budding stars and key plug-and-play veterans. Their 26-man Opening Day payroll, according to the esteemed Cot’s Contracts, was $60.8 million.

You already know where I’m going with this, don’t you? That new contract Shohei Ohtani just signed with the Dodgers on Saturday has an AAV (average annual value) of $70 million, so nearly $10 million more than the Orioles had allotted for a full squad that wound up hitting triple digits in the W column. 

That’s just insane. 

Ohtani’s new AAV was also higher than the A’s ($56.8 million) but their owner wasn’t trying to win, so that hardly counts. That $70 million is just below what the Rays ($73.1 million) and Pirates ($73.2 million) had with their Opening Day 26-man rosters. 

Ten years, $700 million. 

If you can say that out loud with out laughing, crying or gasping, I’d be impressed. 

The contract is going to jump-start talks — at least among fans and media types — about the disparity in baseball and the need for a salary cap, and that’s understandable. Just know that, to get any sort of salary cap, owners would need to lock out the MLBPA for more than a season to get that implemented. But that’s a topic for another time.

Shohei Ohtani’s record contract a stunner

It’s true, Ohtani’s new contract doesn’t seem grounded in reality.

MORE: Biggest contracts in sports history | Ohtani’s contract details

Maybe that’s fitting, though, because what Othani’s done on a baseball diamond the past couple seasons isn’t grounded in reality, either. The only thing standing between Ohtani and three consecutive AL MVP awards was Aaron Judge’s record 62-homer season in 2022 — and even then, Ohtani still got two first-place votes and the other 28 second-place tallies. 

Ohtani’s contract reset the news cycle, completely, in a way no contract ever has. 

It might never happen again, not like this. 

Ten years, $700 million. An average annual value of $70 million per season. 

Sorry, just had to write it all out again because that hardly seems real. And it’s a contract loaded with deferrals that will stretch out years to lower the annual luxury tax hit, so the Dodgers will still have money to spend to build a team around him.

It’s a stunning end to what’s been a hectic few post-Winter Meetings days. 

Crazy ending to quiet pursuit of Shohei Ohtani

Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but it’s amusing how many high-profile free-agent decisions serve up a little bit extra drama — either unintentional or intentional. Ohtani’s experience Friday joins the list, much to his dismay, we’re guessing.

MORE: Winners and losers from Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes

The “Arson Judge appears heading to the Giants” tweet from baseball insider Jon Heyman last December will live in infamy. In the moment, it was a stunning piece of breaking news — record-breaking slugger leaves the Bronx! — with the “Arson” typo just an amusing aside. Then, when it turned out that Aaron Judge wasn’t signing with the Giants but instead staying with the Yankees, the whole damn tweet became iconic. 

And who can ever forget the culmination of Lebron James’ first free-agent experience? “The Decision” aired on ESPN and was massively overdone, even spawning the “I’m taking my talents to …” line that’s been repeated over and over. 

And now, this whole Ohtani thing. 

“He’s chosen the Blue Jays!” Well, maybe but not yet. 

“He’s on a plane to Toronto!” No, he’s still in Southern California. 

For a free-agent experience that was completely shrouded in secrecy for the first couple weeks, it was like everyone got all the crazy out in one day. Sheesh. 

The Dodgers saved their crazy for Saturday, in the form of a mind-boggling contract. 

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