Insiders Project Shohei Ohtani’s Contract and Suitors in Free Agency

Shohei Ohtani is a one of one, which means his free agency will likewise be a one of one. It is not a question of whether Ohtani will break records on his upcoming deal, it’s a question of how many records and by how much.

ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel surveyed 26 anonymous MLB insiders about Ohtani’s coming free agency, and it’s interesting to see how wide-ranging the answers are on what Ohtani could get (but not so wide-ranging on where he could sign):

Although the Chicago Cubs do come in for a mention as a possible suitor, as they have many times before, they are not the team most insiders figure Ohtani wants. Unsurprisingly, that team is the Los Angeles Dodgers – a storied West Coast franchise that sat out free agency last year and has as much money as it will take. I would certainly guess the Dodgers as I sit here today, though it’s hard to count out the Yankees, Mets, and Padres nowadays.

As for how much it’ll take to sign, Ohtani, the spread was all over the place (ESPN):

Here are the 26 responses from our panel, grouped into tiers by total dollars.

Less than $500 million (6): 4 years/$240 million; 8 years/$400 million; 8 years/$420 million; 9 years/$427.5 million; 13 years/$475 million; 12 years/$492 million

$500 million to $549 million (14): 9 years/$500 million; 10 years/$500 million; 10 years/$510 million; 10 years/$512 million; 12 years/$512 million; 11 years/$515 million; 11 years/$515 million; 12 years/$517 million; 10 years/$520 million; 11 years/$520 million, 11 years/$525 million; 12 years/$525 million; 11 years/$526 million; 12 years/$528 million

$550 million or more (6): 10 years/$550 million; 10 years/$550 million; 11 years/$550 million; 12 years/$580 million; 12 years/600 million; 11 years/$605 million

It’s hard to even come up with a useful “average” there, but you can eyeball it and see that most of the guesses are in the 10-11 year range, at an AAV around $45-50 million. As bonkers as those numbers are, that certainly feels right, especially after the way contracts shifted this past offseason.

Ohtani turns 29 in a couple months, so on an 11-year deal, you’re signing him all the way through his 30s. That doesn’t mean you’re expecting him to be a superstar as he approaches 40, but it does mean you’ll have to accept some risk of dead money on the back-end if you’re wanting him on your team for the next several probably-extremely-productive years. The funny thing there is that it’s not hard to imagine Ohtani being worth nearly $100 million over EACH of the next, say, three or four seasons. And that’s just his on-the-field baseball value.

In other words, I think any contract predication that comes in under $500 million is just silly. He probably winds up getting a longer deal than most expect at an AAV higher than most expect. That 12 years/$600 million guess, for example, is looking pretty right to me, again given the way the market shifted this past offseason.

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Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

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