The MLB offseason has died down tremendously over the last month, and it looks as if the Braves are pretty much finished, outside of another small acquisition or two before the start of the season. It was another quiet winter in Atlanta, aside from a blockbuster trade that landed the Braves Sean Murphy. Ever since Alex Anthopoulos has taken over as general manager, free agency is not where he’s done most of his work. The Braves have done a tremendous job developing their own talent and using the trade market to fill their remaining needs. I don’t expect that to change all of a sudden, but if there were ever a superstar free agent for the Braves to target, it would be Shohei Ohtani.
Ohtani is set to be an unrestricted free agent following next season, provided he doesn’t sign an extension with the Angels, which doesn’t seem likely, given his comments regarding the team’s lackluster performance since he arrived in Los Angeles. If he hits the open market, Ohtani will be the biggest free agent in MLB history and will surely shatter records for the largest contract ever signed. He’s arguably the most talented player to ever walk the face of the earth, and his ability to excel as both a pitcher and position player makes him incredibly valuable.
Given the Braves history of handing out lucrative, long-term contracts, I find it highly unlikely they will be one of many teams in the running for Ohtani’s services. But since we have plenty of time left in the offseason, and not much baseball news to cover, I wanted to take a look at what kind of contract it would take to get a deal done with the Japanese superstar.
Agent A: “He will definitely beat Trout, and you have to go from there.” (Mike Trout signed a 12-year, $426.5M deal)
Agent B: “Should get $400M-plus to a winner.”
Agent C: “$430 [million] to $440 over 10 years.”
Agent D: “10 times 45 [million]”
Agent E: “I think he goes to $500M or so, probably 12 years.”
Agent F: “$500M for 13/14 [years]— $250M per position”
Agent G: “475 [million]to 525 over 13 seasons.”
Agent H: “11 times 50 = $550M. Sounds crazy but he has the ability to consistently be a 9/10 WAR player.”
Agent I: “It sure seems like something that starts with a 5 in front of it.”
Assuming Ohtani stays healthy and turns in another MVP-caliber campaign, I think he’s a lock to earn $500 million next offseason. He has the ability to win a Cy Young while mashing 40 homers and will only be 29-years-old when he tests free agency. His next contract should at least take him through his age-40 season, probably a bit further than that, with an AAV of $40-50 million.
The Braves have already committed so much money to their core players that I’m not sure how they could be involved in the Ohtani sweepstakes. But they do have some money coming off the books in the coming years, and given the rest of their core is already locked up, I’m not completely counting out their potential interest.
The most intriguing part about Ohtani is his pull. His value stems from more than just his on-field performance, which is outstanding. If the Braves were to land Ohtani, Truist Park and the surrounding Battery area would be a frenzy on a nightly basis. Braves games would become the hottest ticket in the city. That still probably won’t be enough for them to venture into a place where they’ve never been willing to go, but it is another aspect for Liberty Media and the Braves front office to consider next offseason.
Photographer: John Cordes/Icon