The Angels and two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani have agreed on a $30 million contract for the 2023 season, avoiding the arbitration process, the team announced Saturday.
It is the largest amount for any MLB player eligible for arbitration.
Ohtani is earning $5.5 million in 2022, the final year of a two-year deal. Unless the team signs him to a long-term deal, he will be eligible to become a free agent after next season, when his free agency is expected to ignite a historic bidding war.
The Japanese-born pitcher and outfielder/designated hitter is the defending American League Most Valuable Player after hitting 46 home runs and going 9-2 on the mound last year, and by some measures is exceeding that season this year.
He takes a 15-game hitting streak into Saturday night’s game against the Texas Rangers in Anaheim. He’s hitting .276 this season with 34 home runs and 94 RBI.
Ohtani has been even more sensational on the mound, posting a 15-8 record and 2.35 earned-run average with 213 strikeouts in 161 innings, and flirting with a no-hitter Thursday night in the team’s 4-2 victory over the Oakland A’s at Angel Stadium.
The 28-year-old phenom gave up his first hit with two outs in the eighth inning — a single from Conner Capel — and was replaced in the ninth inning, settling for a two-hitter with 10 strikeouts for his 15th victory of the season, two behind league leader Justin Verlander of the Houston Astros.
Despite Ohtani’s remarkable accomplishments since making his MLB debut for the Angels in 2018, the team has struggled during that time, finishing with a losing record every year and failing to make the postseason. Those struggles on the field and the organization’s uncertain future, with owner Artie Moreno recently announcing that he’s exploring a sale of the team, have led most analysts to speculate that Ohtani is unlikely to sign with the Angels beyond 2023.