July 28, 2021

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

Shohei Ohtani agrees to two-year, $8.5M deal with Angels

The Angels aren’t parading one of their brightest young players into an arbitration hearing to haggle over salary figures this month. The team announced Monday it had agreed to a two-year, $8.5-million contract with two-way star Shohei Ohtani.

The news comes nearly a month after Ohtani’s representatives and the Angels came to an impasse on how large a raise he deserved as he entered his fourth major league season. At the time, it was reported that Ohtani sought a salary of $3.3 million for 2021. The figure was $800,000 more than the Angels were willing to commit.

Now Ohtani, 26, will receive $3 million this season and $5.5 million in 2022 before becoming arbitration-eligible once again in 2023. Barring an extension, he would become a free agent ahead of the 2024 season.

The Angels historically have been a “file-and-trial” team, meaning they don’t negotiate with players after the mid-January deadline to exchange figures and before a hearing occurs. But they’ve rarely needed to rely on that method, having settled on all arbitration salaries ahead of the deadline for eight consecutive seasons before outfielder Brian Goodwin refused to budge last winter and had a hearing.

Ohtani sidestepped what figured to be a strange hearing. There isn’t a precedent for handling the case of a two-way player, much less one for a star who barely had pitched in two seasons and was coming off a woeful campaign.

In his first attempt to pitch since undergoing Tommy John surgery in October 2018, Ohtani totaled a mere 1⅔ innings over two early season starts. He walked eight of the 16 batters he faced and labored to throw at his usual mid- to high-90s velocity. In the batter’s box, he hit .190 with 50 strikeouts in 153 at-bats.

The Angels are banking on Ohtani’s upside, particularly when it comes to his presence in a starting rotation that needs ace-level talent. Last time he was able to pitch with regularity, Ohtani threw 51⅔ innings over 10 starts in his rookie season, went 4-2 with a 3.31 ERA and struck out 63.

He also hit 22 home runs and drove in 61 runs in 2018 and had 18 homers and 62 RBIs in 2019.