He is keeping the Angels in contention almost single-handedly, as the team is currently missing Mike Trout and has one of the worst pitching staffs in the league.
Ohtani is the Angels’ best pitcher, with a 3.49 ERA in 67 innings.
He has 87 strikeouts over that span mainly because of a nasty splitter and triple-digits heat.
An ace is extremely valuable in today’s market.
However, Ohtani is more than just an ace.
He is also the best slugger in the league: yes, you read that correctly.
As of the moment of writing this piece, Ohtani leads all MLB hitters with 33 home runs.
If he remains on his current pace, he would break Roger Maris’ record of 61 home runs in a season in the American League.
The 2nd half of the MLB season begins today with Shohei Ohtani on pace for 61 home runs and 22 stolen bases.
No player in MLB history has ever had a 60-20 season and only 4 players have gone 50-20 (Willie Mays, Brady Anderson, Ken Griffey Jr. and Alex Rodriguez). pic.twitter.com/1cdXgmuzrP
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 16, 2021
It hasn’t been just power, however.
The Japanese phenom has a .279/.364/.698 line with a fantastic 1.062 OPS.
For his career, Ohtani has hit .271/.347/.553 with 80 home runs and a .900 OPS.
And he is just getting started: he is, after all, just 27 years old.
How Can We Establish Ohtani’s Value?
The Angels might want to pick up extension talks soon, because he is getting more expensive by the minute.
The problem is, how do you establish fair value for a very good pitcher and an elite slugger?
There are no recent precedents to compare Ohtani and his 2021 performance, which will likely cost the Angels dearly.
The Angels already enjoyed Ohtani’s three pre-arbitration, cheap seasons, paying him near-league minimum salaries.
Before his first salary arbitration season, which was (or is) 2021, the Angels and Ohtani reached an agreement on a two-year, $8.5 million contract.
That deal, which pays him $3 million in 2021 and $5.5 million in 2022, will cover Ohtani’s first two seasons of salary arbitration.
He Will Get Paid Dearly Eventually
He could get very, very expensive in his third and final arbitration campaign, not to mention a potential venture in free agency.
That’s why the Angels should approach him with a contract extension that would cover 2023, his last year of salary arbitration, and a few years of free agency.
As a pitcher, Ohtani has already had Tommy John surgery, back in 2018, and is currently on a careful routine the Angels put together to not overtax his right arm.
He may come with a manual, but can be a difference makes on the mound.
As a hitter, there are fewer restrictions other than perhaps a rest day here and there.
Whether or not he can remain doing both activities for the long haul remains to be seen, but given what we have seen from him as a major leaguer so far, he has earned a ridiculously big contract.
It remains to be seen how the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) affects free agency, contract extensions, and other things, but Ohtani could conceivably surpass teammate Mike Trout with the largest and richest contract in MLB, which is currently 12 years and $426 million.
Shohei Ohtani’s contract extension is gonna be nuts
— Brad Stevens Burner (@BradyToGronk0) July 3, 2021
So far, Ohtani’s priority hasn’t been money, but he seems destined to be paid, whether it is via a contract extension or in free agency.