Shohei Ohtani Becomes Highest Paid Athlete in North America

After becoming an unrestricted free agent on November 6, 2023, the Los Angeles Angels star Shohei Ohtani quickly became the most sought-after player in MLB free agent history. Following a month of unrestricted free agency, Ohtani shocked fans this past Saturday when he announced on his Instagram that he would be signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Japanese-born star officially signed his new contract with the Dodgers in a lucrative deal for $700 million over 10 years. 

As a part of his contract with the Dodgers, Ohtani agreed to be paid only $2 million for the next ten seasons with the Los Angeles team. The young star agreed to defer the remaining $680 million in his contract until his ten years on the team are complete. The Dodgers will pay the $680 million to Ohtani from 2034 to 2043. This deal allows the Dodgers to continue spending money on crucial additions to the team throughout the ten years Shohei will be competing for them.

Following his new contract, the 29-year-old will bid farewell to the team he started his MLB career with before moving to the Dodgers. Ohtani made his MLB debut in 2018 with the Angels and would win the American League Rookie of the Year award that same season. 

In the 2021 All-Star Game, the two-way sensation became the first player to make an All-Star team as both a pitcher and a hitter. After the 2021 game, Ohtani became a three-time All-Star as he had been picked as a pitcher and hitter for the game the following two years. In the 2021 and 2023 seasons, the 29-year-old claimed the American League Most Valuable Player award, becoming the first player to win the prestigious award unanimously more than once. 

Following his impressive six-year career start in the MLB, the Japanese-born star has hit 171 home runs and 437 RBIs throughout his professional career. Not only is Ohtani an accomplished hitter, but he is a two-way player with 608 strikeouts as a pitcher.

After six consecutive years without a playoff appearance, the 29-year-old has signed with a team that has made the postseason competition for 11 straight years and won the 2020 World Series. Had Ohtani stayed with the Angels, he would have to face the Texas Rangers, who won this year’s World Series, and the two-time World Series title holders, the Houston Astros. 

Now, Ohtani’s impeccable talent might be just what the Dodgers need to make it to the World Series next season. The superstar is joining a team that has clinched three consecutive 100-win seasons. Shohei currently suffers from a tear in his UCL in his throwing elbow, so he will not be taking the mound in the 2024 season, but he will continue to bat for the Dodgers this upcoming season. 

After bidding farewell to the team he spent his entire MLB career with, Ohtani will become the eleventh Japanese-born player to put on a Dodgers uniform. Following yesterday’s contract signing with the Dodgers, Ohtani obtained the largest guaranteed contract in MLB history. The two-way player has surpassed other professional athletes in the United States and will now be the highest-paid professional athlete in North America. 

Shohei Ohtani’s contract has become the largest deal in MLB history as he surpassed his former teammate Mike Trout, who has a contract for $426.5 million over 12 years with the Angels. Not only did Ohtani pass his former teammate, but he is also passing his new Dodgers teammate, Mookie Betts, who has a $365 million contract for 12 years. 

While the two-way sensation now clinches the greatest deal in MLB history, he also currently holds the number one contract in North American team sports. Fifteen professional athletes earn over $50 million annually in the United States. Of those fifteen, ten are NBA players, four are NFL quarterbacks, and the final one is Shohei Ohtani. Ohtani is leading the list with a $9.1 million a year advantage as the second highest contract in North America is Damian Lillard’s extension with the Milwaukee Bucks, in which he will start making $60.9 million a year in the 2025-26 NBA season. 

Over the next few seasons, it will be interesting to see if Ohtani is worth the $700 million the Dodgers will be paying him. While he will be starting his Dodgers career with an injury and is unable to pitch, he should still make a great addition to the team. In the past six seasons, the Dodgers have made a World Series appearance three times and clinched the title away from the Tampa Bay Rays in 2020. During the free agency period, the 29-year-old made it clear he wanted to be with a team that would win, so this contract seems mutually beneficial for both the Dodgers and Ohtani.

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