Shohei Ohtani, the epitome of baseball excellence, has consistently placed his trust in his own abilities, and now his unwavering belief is about to pay off in extraordinary fashion. From a determined 18-year-old harboring aspirations of becoming one of the greatest two-way players the baseball world has ever witnessed, Ohtani’s journey has been a testament to his unyielding confidence and relentless dedication. Multiple media reports suggest that Ohtani is on the brink of securing a massive payday through a new contract that will make him the highest-paid baseball player of all time.
The value of Ohtani’s remarkable talent is beyond measure, presenting a unique challenge in assessing his true worth. Jeffrey Fellenzer, a sports journalism professor at the University of Southern California, shared his insights with CNN Sport, stating, “These are uncharted waters as far as assessing the value of this unique talent. The figures being mentioned, whether it’s $50 million or $60 million, will set a new standard. It will become the gold standard for compensation in baseball.”
Back in 2017, when Ohtani was just 23 years old, he found himself standing at a critical crossroads. With a Japanese Series championship win and a Pacific League MVP award already under his belt, he had to make a life-altering decision. Should he accept a $3.5 million signing bonus from a Major League Baseball (MLB) team or delay his lifelong dream for two years, enter unrestricted free agency, and potentially earn a staggering $200 million contract? The Los Angeles Times, in conversation with several league executives, shed light on this pivotal moment in Ohtani’s career. Despite the limitations imposed by MLB’s international signing rules, Ohtani valued the opportunity to compete in America more than an immediate astronomical payday.
Ohtani’s bold decision paid off when he signed with the Los Angeles Angels in 2017, securing a $2.3 million bonus, according to Spotrac. As the 28-year-old superstar approaches the conclusion of this season, he is poised to embark on a financial journey of unprecedented proportions. Projections from the New York Post indicate that Ohtani’s next contract could exceed $500 million, with an annual average salary of approximately $50 million.
Renowned for his ability to influence games from both the pitcher’s mound and the batter’s box, Ohtani possesses a rare combination of skills that transcend the boundaries of traditional baseball. Last year, he achieved a feat that hadn’t been accomplished since 1893, finishing in the top 15 in both home runs and strikeouts in a single season. In the current season, he continues to rewrite the record books, placing in the top three in both categories. Ohtani’s feats on the field defy imagination and challenge the limits of what was previously deemed possible in the sport.
“He’s not just an All-Star; he’s a megastar,” remarked Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker, speaking of Ohtani’s dominance during the 2022 season. “One of the top offensive players and one of the top pitchers. And he’s smart – I can tell by the way he plays the game. He’s talented, but he’s also smart.”
At the end of this season, it is highly likely that Ohtani will add another MVP award to his ever-growing collection. His unparalleled ability to excel in both pitching and hitting has captivated the baseball world, even when skeptics initially questioned his ambition to play both positions upon his arrival in MLB. As an 18-year-old, Ohtani was eager for the opportunity to compete in the United States, aspiring to follow in the footsteps of esteemed Japanese pitchers such as Yu Darvish and Hideo Nomo by joining the Los Angeles Dodgers. However, the Dodgers had reservations about embracing the concept of a two-way player, leading Ohtani to sign with the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, where he enjoyed a prolific four-year career.
The Dodgers’ reluctance to pursue Ohtani can be understood given the rarity of his versatile style, which hadn’t been seen in decades. “There is going to be a big learning curve,” stated baseball writer Scott Miller in a 2018 interview with CNN. “Nobody has tried to go both ways as a hitter and a pitcher since you go back to the days of Babe Ruth.”
Today, Ohtani’s name is frequently mentioned in the same breath as the legendary Babe Ruth, not only for his awe-inspiring performances on the field but also for his significant impact on the global growth of baseball. Fellenzer commented, “[Ohtani] increases interest in Japanese baseball — who’s going to be the next Ohtani? It increases interest in baseball, period. It increases interest in Japanese baseball here. We’ll pay a little more attention now when they tell us who the best prospects are in Japan.”
With each mesmerizing display, Ohtani not only propels the Angels but also rejuvenates the allure of “America’s pastime.” His extraordinary abilities have attracted a younger demographic to the sport while solidifying Japan’s reputation as a baseball powerhouse. Furthermore, Ohtani’s forthcoming record-breaking payday will undoubtedly revolutionize how MLB structures contracts for superstar players, leading teams to actively seek out more two-way talents and approach international prospects with increased patience. Ohtani’s path to greatness has not been without hurdles, as he faced injury setbacks, including a Tommy John surgery that sidelined him from pitching for nearly two years. However, he persevered, earning an MVP award and two All-Star selections along the way.
Ohtani’s unprecedented accomplishments transcend imagination, shattering long-standing baseball records. Although pitching and hitting are distinct disciplines with their own intricacies, training regimens, and scouting reports, Ohtani has come remarkably close to mastering every facet of the game. After a game in late June where he hit two home runs, struck out 10 White Sox batters, and propelled the Angels to a 4-2 victory, manager Phil Nevin summed up the sentiments of many. “We’re seeing things every day that we’ve never seen before,” Nevin expressed. “You try not to take it for granted. I don’t think many of us do.”