Shohei Ohtani and the Los Angeles Angels agreed on $30 million contract for the 2023 season.
The deal marks the largest salary ever for an arbitration-eligible player, surpassing Mookie Betts‘ $27 million for the 2020 season (which was reduced due to the pandemic-shortened season).
His $24.5 million raise is also the largest ever from one year to the next. Ohtani’s 2022 salary was $5.5 million.
Ohtani has more than lived up to the expectations that were set for him when he first joined the major leagues in 2018.
Dubbed the “Japanese Babe Ruth” when he came over, he was named the American League Rookie of the Year with a .285 average and .925 OPS while pitching to a 3.31 ERA and striking out 11.0 batters per nine innings. He became the first player in MLB history to hit at least 20 home runs and strike out at least 60 batters in the same season.
That was already impressive itself, but that was just taste of what was to come.
Ohtani underwent Tommy John surgery before the 2019 season, which kept him from pitching that year. He suffered another injury in 2020 that limited him to pitching in just 1.2 innings.
But he was the unanimous AL MVP in 2021 as he hit 46 homers — the third most in baseball — and drove in 100 runs with a .965 OPS. He also recorded a 3.18 ERA, which was the eighth-best mark in the AL among pitchers with at least 130 innings thrown.
This year, he’s been even better on the mound.
His offensive numbers have taken a slight hit (34 homers, 94 RBI, .888 OPS), but his average is 19 points higher than last year’s .257. But on the mound, he leads the American League with an 11.9 K/9 (second-best in MLB), and his 2.35 ERA is the sixth lowest in baseball.
If it weren’t for Aaron Judge‘s race for a Triple Crown while tying Roger Maris for the most home runs in a single season by an American League player, he would be the heavy favorite for the MVP again.
Ohtani is slated to be a free agent after next season, and if he keeps this performance up next year, he’ll be due for another huge raise.