The Los Angeles Angels announced that they had agreed to a one-year, $30 million contract with two-way star Shohei Ohtani for the 2023 season. This deal allows the two parties to avoid what would have been one of the most fascinating arbitration cases in the history of the system.
Ohtani was always going to be under contract with the Angels in 2023 if the team wanted him to be. However, agreeing to a deal now — as opposed to just before the arbitration deadline or forcing a hearing — allows both sides to get what they believe to be fair value.
It also gives the Angels a more concrete sense of their 2023 payroll before entering free agency, and may give prospective buyers of the team a better view of what they are actually buying. Ohtani becomes the Angels third-highest paid player in 2023, behind Anthony Rendon ($38.6M) and Mike Trout ($37.1M).
Although it’s completely fair to argue that Ohtani should be the Angels’ — and even MLB’s — highest paid player, this is still a historic arbitration deal for Ohtani. $30 million is the largest arbitration contract of all time, surpassing Mookie Betts’ $27 million in 2020.
It is also by far the largest year-to-year salary increase in MLB history, as Ohtani made $5.5 million in 2022. A $24.5 million raise could possibly never be topped again.
Angels interim manager Phil Nevin was the only Angels official to publicly make a comment about the contract agreement, according to Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com:
“It’s great for him,” said interim manager Phil Nevin before Saturday’s game against the Rangers. “I think with the comfort level heading into the offseason, it’s a good thing. It’s not really my department, but managing him has been a pleasure, and hopefully we get to stay together for a while.”
Of course, this deal will not quell any rumors about a potential trade in the offseason. In fact, having him at a guaranteed $30 million might make a trade easier, as teams won’t have to worry about the fear of an arbitration hearing with one of the most intriguing players in MLB history.
As of Oct. 1’s win over the Texas Rangers, Ohtani is sporting a 16-game hitting streak. As a batter, he is slashing .276/.359/.527 for an .886 OPS. He has 34 home runs, 94 RBIs, and 59 extra-base hits on the season.
As a pitcher, Ohtani is nearing Cy Young contention. In 27 starts — 161.0 innings — he has a 2.35 ERA, 1.031 WHIP, and 213 strikeouts.
Mike Trout looking good entering offseason
After long-term concerns arose during the 2022 season regarding Mike Trout’s back, he has looked like his normal self since returning to the lineup. Entering the offseason, some wondered if Trout’s usual routine would be disrupted by his back condition.
It was assured that Trout is at full strength and should have no restrictions as he goes through his offseason program.