Shohei Ohtani set a financial record with his unique performance on the field, receiving $700 million to make the 48 km (30 mile) climb up Interstate 5 to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

His agent, Nez Balelo, issued a press release Saturday announcing the 10-year deal, ending months of speculation that began before Ohtani became a free agent on Nov. 2.

In recent days, media and fans had been following the movements of private planes and alleged sightings like detectives, trying to figure out the two-time AL MVP’s intentions with the Los Angeles Angels.

“This is a unique, historic contract for a unique, historic player,” Balelo said. “He is excited to begin this partnership and has structured his contract to reflect both parties’ genuine commitment to long-term success.”

Ohtani’s total was 64 percent higher than baseball’s previous record, a 12-year, $426.5 million contract for Angels outfielder Mike Trout that began in 2019.

His average salary of $70 million is 62 percent higher than the previous high of $43,333,333 shared by pitchers Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander on contracts with the New York Mets.

Ohtani’s average salary is almost double the approximately $42.3 million he earned with the Angels. It also exceeds the entire payrolls of Baltimore and Oakland this year.

His agreement includes unprecedented deferred funds that reduce the amount that counts against the Dodgers’ luxury tax payroll, a person familiar with the agreement told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because details were not disclosed.

“He has structured his contract to reflect the genuine commitment from both sides to long-term success,” Balelo said. “Shohei and I would like to thank all the organizations that have reached out to us for their interest and respect, especially the wonderful people we have gotten to know even better throughout this process.”

This is perhaps the biggest contract in the history of the sport, probably surpassing football stars Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe.

“I apologize that it took me so long to come to a decision,” Ohtani said in an English-language statement on Instagram. “I would like to express my sincere gratitude to everyone involved in the Angels organization and the fans who have supported me over the last six years, as well as everyone from each team who has been a part of this negotiation process.”

“And to all Dodgers fans, I promise to always do what’s best for the team and to continue to do my best to be the best version of myself,” he continued. “Until the last day of my playing career, I want to continue to strive forward not only for the Dodgers, but also for the baseball world.”

Ohtani joins a roster that also includes 2018 AL MVP Mookie Betts and 2020 NL MVP Freddie Freeman. The Dodgers won the NL West this year for the 10th time in 11 seasons before being defeated by Arizona in the Division Series in October.

Los Angeles begins the 2024 season against San Diego on March 20-21 in Seoul, South Korea.

Ohtani’s decision came six years and one day after he first agreed to his Angels deal.

The Japanese star has redefined modern baseball since choosing the Angels as his first major league team. No one has come close to matching his success at the plate and on the mound and, when healthy, has become one of the majors’ elite players in both roles. Over time, he has become one of the most marketable athletes in the world, a force when it comes to ticket sales, TV ratings and sponsorship revenue.

He was the AL’s unanimous MVP in 2021 and 2023 – he finished second in 2022 – and won this year despite an elbow injury in late August and an oblique muscle injury in early September.

Before his 30th birthday on July 5, he has a .274 average with 171 home runs, 437 RBIs and 86 stolen bases, and a record of 39-19 with a 3.01 ERA and 608 strikeouts in 481 2/3 innings. According to Baseball-Reference, Ohtani has 34.7 wins above replacement (WAR).

Ohtani won his second AL MVP award last season when he posted a .304 batting average with 44 home runs and an AL-leading 95 RBIs in 135 games with the Los Angeles Angels. He led the AL with a .412 on-base percentage and the majors with a .654 slugging percentage.

As a pitcher, Ohtani went 10-5 with a 3.14 ERA and recorded 167 strikeouts over 132 innings (23 starts). He limited opposing hitters to a .184 average.

Ohtani’s pitching efforts ended after he tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow on August 23. The three-time All-Star continued to play as a hitter until suffering an oblique injury on September 3rd.

Ohtani underwent a second elbow surgery in mid-September and is not expected to pitch in 2024. He also had the procedure in 2018.

The Angels will receive a draft pick after the second round of the 2024 draft as compensation for Ohtani declining their qualifying offer.

Source : www.aljazeera.com

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