Free agent Shohei Ohtani rejects Blue Jays offer to sign $700M deal with Dodgers
Posted December 9, 2023 1:14 pm.
Last Updated December 9, 2023 3:54 pm.
Shohei Ohtani has opted to stay in southern California, and the Toronto Blue Jays have missed out on landing a generational talent.
“I apologize for taking so long to come to a decision. I have decided to choose the Dodgers as my next team,” the unrestricted free agent announced on his Instagram account on Saturday.
According to his agent Nez Balelo, Ohtani’s deal with the Dodgers is worth US$700 million over 10 years.
Toronto’s offer was believed to be in excess of $500 million, according to Sportnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith.
“This is a unique, historic contract for a unique, historic player,” Balelo of CAA Sports said in a statement. “He is excited to begin this partnership, and he structured his contract to reflect a true commitment from both sides to long-term success.”
Ohtani’s total was 64% higher than baseball’s previous record, a $426.5 million, 12-year deal for Angels outfielder Mike Trout that began in 2019.
His $70 million average salary is 62% above the previous high of $43,333,333, shared by pitchers Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander with deals they struck when signing with the New York Mets. Ohtani’s average salary nearly doubles the roughly $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 money that will lower the amount it counts toward the Dodgers’ luxury tax payroll, a person familiar with the agreement told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the details were not announced.
This is perhaps the largest contract in sports history, topping highs believed to be set by soccer stars Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe.
There was no immediate comment by the Dodgers. Ohtani has not spoken with reporters since Aug. 9.
Ohtani’s decision came six years and one day after he first agreed to his deal with Angels.
The news has left Blue Jays fans heartbroken.
“I mean $700 million is a pretty astronomical number but (I am) a little heartbroken it wasn’t with the Jays, but I think he’s going to do well with the Dodgers,” said Jays fan Nic Solari.
Ohtani hit 44 homers and drove in 95 runs over 135 games. Meanwhile, on the mound, he went 10-5 with a 3.14 earned-run average over 23 starts and was the unanimous choice as American League MVP last season..
The Dodgers were the early favourites to land Ohtani, but some analysts had Toronto emerging as a strong contender after the Japanese star reportedly visited the Blue Jays’ spring training facility in Dunedin, Fla.
Speculation that Ohtani was Toronto-bound hit feverish levels on Friday when an online report at Dodgersnation.com indicated that the Japanese star had chosen to sign with the Blue Jays.
That was followed by a social media post from a MLB.com reporter who stated Ohtani was en route to Toronto.
Social media users tracked what they thought could be the star’s flight to Toronto, only for the CBC to report that the individual aboard the private jet was Shark Tank and Dragons’ Den star Robert Herjavec – not a prospective designated hitter.
Ohtani will be unavailable to pitch next season as he recovers from elbow surgery, but his left-handed bat will augment an already strong Dodgers team that won 100 games last season before being upset by Arizona in a National League Division Series.