Shohei Ohtani Prediction: Experts Project Where Major MLB Player Will Sign, What Kind Of Contract He Will Get
Throughout the season CBS Sports MLB experts bring you a weekly Batting Around roundup breaking down just about anything. Breaking news, historical trivia, thoughts on the future of baseball, all kinds of stuff.. This week we are going to do the same with Shohei Ohtani.
Where will Ohtani sign? How much does he get?
Dayne Perry: I realize the Dodgers seem like the favorites to land him, but I’ll deviate from that consensus and say he ties the Rangers for something like $510 million. Ohtani has stated several times that winning will be a priority in choosing his destination, and of course Texas is coming off a championship season. They project as contenders for years to come, and their ownership group have been willing spenders in recent years. The Rangers also need a DH with free agency Mitch Garver, and by the time Ohtani is ready to go again in 2025 Max Scherzer and Andrew Heaney will likely hit free agency (or retire could be in Scherzer’s case). Both sides just check a lot of boxes for each other, so I’m going Texas.
Matt Snyder: I’ll stick with the Dodgers. They’ve been gearing up to make a run at it for the past two years, they may have the deepest pockets in baseball, they have natural suits on the roster and might have an advantage their regional.
As for the fit, Dodgers DH JD Martinez is a free agent and last year’s lineup needed more depth anyway. It’s clear that Ohtani can’t go into 2024, but the rotation will need several adjustments for 2025 and beyond. It’s unknown where Clayton Kershaw will be and Walker Buehler is set to hit free agency after 2024. Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin could be back for 2025 while it’s possible that youngsters like Ryan Pepiot, Bobby Miller and Emmet Sheehan had established themselves as rotation fixtures by then. Basically, it’s just question marks.
As for the divisional opinion, Ohtani has spent his entire MLB career with the Angels, so it wouldn’t be a big move to join the Dodgers.
And finally, the deep pockets. I think the Dodgers beat all the offers. As for how many, I’ll start with Aaron Judge. He hit free agency coming off an MVP season and was a year older than Ohani. He got nine years and $360 million. With the extra year of youth and the fact that Ohtani will very likely be a great pitcher again in addition to the offense that Judge looks like, we need to add something like $100 million to that at the same length, I think, and maybe another year. I’ll do it even 10 years and $500 million.
Mike Axis: I joined the Dodgers on a 13-year, $500 million contract, so I guess I’ll have to stick with that. I think the Rangers are a legit threat though, and I won’t rule out Steve Cohen and the Mets. The Blue Jays are also a good fit. It just feels like the Dodgers have spent the last few years aligning their payroll and roster in such a way that they can send Ohtani away with an offer this offseason. . President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman missed out on Ohtani once before and I don’t think he’ll be denied again.
As for the contract, I expect it to be complex. The Dodgers have a thing for delays that reduce today’s value and thus the cost of a competitive balance sheet (Freddie Freeman and Mookie Betts have significant delays in their contracts), so I assume that they will try to get some into Ohtani’s contract as well. I could also see Ohtani pushing for an opt-out, perhaps after 2025, once his elbow is healthy and he has a chance to show he can still be an effective pitcher. Ohtani’s contract could have all kinds of delays, opt-outs, bonuses, options, and whatnot. A deal of just X dollars over Y years may not happen.
Ohtani to the Dodgers would hardly be boring at this point, although I think it’s more likely. So likely I’d take the Dodgers over the field, and I’d almost certainly not take a single team over the field for a free agent. The Dodgers want him badly and can offer Ohtani everything he wants. Money, a chance to contend for a World Series, and the ability to stay in Southern California, where he seems to be comfortable. It just makes so much sense. They check all the right boxes.
RJ Anderson: I agree with Axisa that the deal is likely to be long and complicated. I have a feeling the Dodgers are the favorites as well – although I’m sure the Rangers and others will make a serious run at acquiring his services. I’ll go with 10 years and $500 million with a ton of opt-outs that basically make it a series of smaller deals.