Shohei Ohtani's massive contract highlights Athletics' lack of spending

Shohei Ohtani has signed a record breaking contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The deal highlights the Oakland Athletics' laughably low payroll over the last decade.

Sep 3, 2023; Oakland, California, USA; Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani (17) bats
Sep 3, 2023; Oakland, California, USA; Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani (17) bats / Robert Edwards-USA TODAY Sports
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MLB superstar Shohei Ohtani has chosen to stay in southern California, signing a massive record-breaking contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers worth 10 years and $700 million. It has been reported that Ohtani's new contract is the largest guaranteed contract in sports history.

Ohtani has proven to be well worth the investment. His run between 2021-2023 is arguably the most impressive performance in major league history, as he's made himself known as one of the best hitters and pitchers in baseball at the same time. He won the AL MVP award in 2021 and 2023, and finished second in 2022.

In a sad twist to this story, it turns out that Ohtani's guaranteed $700 million is more than the Athletics have spent in total payroll dollars combined since 2015. In those nine years, the A's have spent a total of $634 million on player salaries.

With the Athletics payroll in 2024 expected to be under $70 million, that will make a full ten years where the A's spent less in total than Ohtani got in one free agent contract.

Oakland's unwillingness to spend is notable considering MLB superstar contract trends

There were many predictions made about Ohtani's eventual contract, but few guessed a number this high. It's reported that Ohtani will have a considerable portion of his contract deferred, but the full details haven't been released yet.

Ohtani's average annual value will be $70 million. The Athletics are likely going to enter their third straight season with a total payroll under that $70 million mark. Athletics owner John Fisher and team President Dave Kaval have spoken openly about how their move to Las Vegas will allow the team to spend more freely on free agent acquisitions and long-term contract extensions.

It's unlikely that ever actually comes to fruition, given how the A's ownership has operated this franchise for the past two decades, but it will be at least another three years before the A's even think about adding that kind of payroll bump.

One major benefit to this signing for A's fans is that Ohtani no longer plays for a division rival. The A's only have one series against the Dodgers in 2024. The two teams play a three-game set in Oakland in early August.

Many A's fans will be wary of giving John Fisher any more of their hard earned money, but the opportunity will be there to see Ohtani one last time at the Coliseum. The A's have a fireworks show planned for the August 3rd game against the Dodgers. How fitting that they'll be able to celebrate Ohtani's arrival in Oakland, albeit likely in front of very few fans.

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