Shohei Ohtani, Angels Agree to Record $30M Contract for 2023, Avoid Arbitration

Adam WellsOctober 1, 2022

Los Angeles Angels' Shohei Ohtani heads home on his solo home run against the Seattle Mariners in the first inning of a baseball game Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

The Los Angeles Angels announced Saturday that they agreed to a one-year, $30 million contract with two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani for the 2023 season, thus avoiding arbitration.

Ohtani is still scheduled to become a free agent at the conclusion of the 2023 campaign unless he and the Angels can reach a long-term deal before then.

Ken Rosenthal @Ken_Rosenthal

The Ohtani contact is a record for an arbitration-eligible player (11% above old record of $27M by Betts). His $24.5M raise Is the biggest year-to-year increase ever for a player, and it puts him in the top 10 as of now for 2023 salary and AAV.

The 28-year-old Ohtani had a historic season in 2021 with a .257/.372/.592 slash line, 46 homers, 100 RBI and 26 stolen bases as an offensive player. He also went 9-2 with a 3.18 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 156 strikeouts over 130.1 innings in 23 starts on the mound en route to being named American League MVP.

Per FanGraphs wins above replacement, Ohtani's 8.1 mark (5.1 as a position player; 3.0 as a pitcher) in 2021 was the best in Major League Baseball.

Corbin Burnes of the Milwaukee Brewers (7.5) and Zack Wheeler of the Philadelphia Phillies (7.3) were the only other players with a WAR over 7.0.

Per The Ringer's Ben Lindbergh, Ohtani accounted for 40 percent of the entire wins above replacement total for the Angels last season.

Some of that was because of bad luck with injuries, particularly to Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon. That duo only combined to play 94 games.

Ohtani is one of the most unique athletes in all of professional sports. MLB took notice of his universal appeal by essentially making him the centerpiece of the 2021 All-Star Game. He participated in the Home Run Derby, started the Midsummer Classic as a pitcher and hit leadoff for the AL.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred presented Ohtani with the Historic Achievement Award in October. He became the first person to receive the award, which was originally created in 1998, since Derek Jeter following his retirement after the 2014 season.

Prior to the 2021 campaign, Ohtani had already proved his value as a hitter.

The Japanese star won American League Rookie of the Year in 2018 when he posted a .925 OPS, 22 homers and 61 RBI as a hitter. He also had a 3.31 ERA with 63 strikeouts in 51.2 innings on the mound, but he had to undergo Tommy John surgery after the season.

The elbow surgery prevented Ohtani from pitching in 2019. He still had a solid offensive year with a .286/.343/.505 slash line and 18 homers in 106 games.

Ohtani isn't hitting at quite the same level as he did last year, but it's only because he set the bar so high. He's still got a .276/.359/.529 slash line with 34 homers, 94 RBI and 11 stolen bases.

What little value Ohtani has lost as a hitter in 2022, he's more than made up for with his performance on the mound. He has a 2.35 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 213 strikeouts in 161 innings, putting him firmly in the Cy Young race.

Even though the Angels remain a mess overall, Ohtani's presence gives them a chance to compete for a playoff spot next season, and perhaps buys them some time to work on a longer-term deal as well.