The Impact of the Dodgers Deferring Shohei Ohtani’s $700 Million Deal


Dec 12, 2023

Shohei Ohtani has inked a staggering $700 million contract with the LA Dodgers in an unprecedented move that has sent shockwaves through Major League Baseball. This deal shatters previous records and raises critical questions about the future of MLB contracts and team strategies.

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The enormity of Ohtani’s contract can’t be overstated. Besides his undeniable prowess on the field, Ohtani’s off-field appeal, including his marketability and fan following, undeniably plays a significant role in justifying this colossal investment by the Dodgers. This aspect underscores a new era in MLB where a player’s value transcends their on-field performance, potentially altering how future contracts are evaluated.

In a remarkable twist, the deal includes a deferred payment structure, spreading a massive $600+ million over several years, with Ohtani receiving $2 million annually for a decade. This structure is a novelty in MLB, sparking intrigue and debate among analysts and fans.

The deferred contract approach isn’t entirely new to MLB. It echoes Giancarlo Stanton’s contract with the Miami Marlins. Stanton’s deal was groundbreaking at the time of signing, but the structure differed significantly. Initially, his earnings were moderate, escalating to $35-38 million annually. Post his MVP win, Stanton was traded to the NY Yankees, who took on the bulk of his hefty contract, with Marlins still paying some. MLB has also seen the backend of players’ contracts being paid out over several years, Bobby Bonilla being a prime example.

The Ohtani deal, however, takes this concept to a whole new level, potentially disrupting the financial equilibrium within MLB. It raises pertinent questions about the fairness and sustainability of such contracts, especially for teams with lesser revenue streams than the Dodgers. Teams in the bottom tier of MLB’s financial hierarchy might find themselves at a significant disadvantage, unable to compete with such lucrative offers.

As the MLB community grapples with this deal’s ramifications, discussions are underway about potential changes in the next Collective Bargaining Agreement in 2026. One key topic could be the limits on deferred money in contracts, aiming to level the playing field for all teams.

For now, the impact of Ohtani’s historic deal is twofold. On one hand, it’s a testament to the unique value he brings to the Dodgers and the league. Conversely, it catalyzes potentially significant changes in how MLB teams structure contracts and manage their finances.

As the 2023 season approaches, all eyes will be on Ohtani and the Dodgers, not just for their performance on the field but for the lasting impact this groundbreaking contract might have on the future of baseball.

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Thumbnail photo via Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

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