Itís the end of the world as we know it ... and I feel fine

Shohei Ohtani's 2023 Topps card

You probably saw the headline: “Shohei Ohtani signs record 10-year, $700M deal with Dodgers; agrees to defer $68M.” 

For the last few years, Ohtani had been one of the true two-way players in MLB in that he was a steady starting pitcher – even finishing 4th in Cy Young voting in 2022 – along with being one of the better hitters in the game. 

So, it’s easy to understand how his value would increase as the Dodgers are getting essentially two players for the price of one. 

However, there are a few things I think need to be pointed out before we start calling the signing by the Dodgers “genius.” If I may… 

When it comes to money, the Los Angeles Dodgers are the National League's answer to the American League’s New York Yankees: no contract is too much for the Dodgers. 

So how come the Dodgers asked Ohtani to defer $68M of that contract, reportedly to make some of their current obligations more manageable? One might get the impression that $700M might be even too much for the fiscal giants.

And while we’re at it, how in the world do the Dodgers expect Ohtani to get by with only $632M? That would be like me telling the Bentley salesman I’d like the best car he’s got on the lot, but then whispering to him that BTW, I’d like to keep the payments around $179/month. 

So don’t be surprised if you bump into Ohtani at Save-A-Lot sometime this summer. Maybe we can organize a GoFundMe for the guy, to help bridge the gap before his deferral payments start to kick in.   

Looking at Ohtani’s stats, he’s 29 years old and has 38 career MLB victories. And oh yeah, he hurt his arm with the Angels this past season and will not pitch until 2025. Oops! I’m thinking Cy Young’s 511 career victories are safe for the moment. 

Ohtani has won the MVP award two out of the last three years (and finished second in voting the year he didn’t win) but I see he has one season of 100 or more RBI, and that season was exactly 100 RBI.

He’s a home run machine, but MLB has a ton of guys who can go yard. Ohtani’s MVP awards suggest voters were perhaps smitten by the two-way aspect of the man’s game. Heck, Jose Ramirez’ stats stack up favorably next to Ohtani. 

Frankly, I think the Dodgers were had. 

Speaking of high-priced free agents, the Ohtani signing reminds me of the winter of 1976, when the Cleveland Indians shocked the baseball world by signing free agent pitcher Wayne Garland to the then-unheard-of 10-year, $2.3M contract.

Coming off the 1976 season in which he won 20 games, it was a risk the Indians felt they had to take to put fans in the Cleveland Stadium seats. The Indians were ripped by some for upending the salary structure of baseball, and some thought it to be the beginning of the end for baseball. 

Any Cleveland fan who has been around long enough to recall the Garland deal certainly remembers how the deal played out. Garland strained his arm during the 1977 season in which he posted a 13-19 record (and that was his best season as an Indian). He had shoulder pain in 1978 (earning the nickname “Wayne the Pain”), tried to pitch through it, and tore his rotator cuff in the process. Ouch! Bye-bye career… 

It signaled the end of future free agent spending until Dick Jacobs bought the Indians in 1986 for $40M. Within the next decade, he turned the franchise into a powerhouse.

Jeff Bing

Lifelong Westlake resident who dabbles in writing whenever the real world permits. My forte is humor and horror...What a combo!

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Volume 15, Issue 23, Posted 9:41 AM, 12.19.2023