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Shohei Ohtani is a Dodger for the next 10 years, but he’s going to be paid by them for much longer than that. The $700 million contract—the largest in not just MLB’s history, but in North American pro sports history—that the two parties agreed to is going to be “mostly” deferred, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, which will significantly decrease the luxury tax hit his contract will have on the Dodgers each season. Teams are allowed to use deferrals like this, to create a “discount” on the luxury tax hit, and the Dodgers are apparently utilizing that idea to its fullest. Ohtani will still get paid a significant amount of cash each year, but he’ll also be collecting paychecks from the Dodgers well after he’s retired. Not a bad gig if you can get it.
What this massive deferral also means is that other teams could have signed Ohtani: the Dodgers didn’t get him just because they’re the Dodgers and have some of the deepest pockets going. Ohtani’s deal could be manipulated so that, for a team like the Dodgers, the cap hit isn’t quite as severe, which is what happened here. But it also could have been manipulated by other teams who were well under the luxury tax threshold to either keep them still below it, or just a bit over. Take the Mariners, for instance: as former Mariners’ blogger Nathan Bishop pointed out on Twitter over the weekend, even at $70 million per year, adding Ohtani to the team would have brought their payroll figure to just $187 million, which would have been outside of 2023’s top 10. That’s still well, well below the first-level luxury tax threshold of $237 million, too, which means that the Mariners still could have focused on filling other holes without going over, if avoiding doing so is that important to them.
You’ll hear a lot about how only the wealthiest teams could have afforded Ohtani — as if the act of having Ohtani on your team doesn’t bring with it the potential to make tons of money that could have paid for the contract — but that belief is simply not true. The Yankees, at least, had the excuse of chasing down Juan Soto and looking to get Yoshinobu Yamamoto out of Japan, but most of the rest of the league’s fans shouldn’t be thinking that this was always going to be the Dodgers, as much as they should be wondering why their teams allowed the Dodgers to pull off the expected.
Craig Calcaterra made a pretty good point, as he so often does:
Major League Baseball makes money on gambling. Major League Baseball has a media arm which puts out bad information about things which influences gamblers.
The “bad information” relates to the weekend’s news that Ohtani was on a jet headed to Toronto to agree to a deal with the Blue Jays. After said rumor was reported — and not by a rando, either, but by Jon Morosi, a columnist for MLB.com and regular host on MLB Network, both, obviously, Major League Baseball media operations — the betting lines for the Blue Jays winning the World Series changed. Which is to say, a bunch of people lost a bunch of money this weekend because of Morosi and MLB, and fast.
[Randy] Blum said media reports, including from MLB Network, prompted him to shorten the Blue Jays’ odds.
“These [reports] were from legitimate baseball guys, not random people on Twitter throwing things out there. … We had to respect it,” Blum said. “When it turned out not to be true, we cleaned it up.”
Now, no one is suggesting that MLB did this sort of thing on purpose. It’s just another in a long list of reasons that gambling’s complete takeover of pro sports in North America is problematic. Someday there’s going to be a major gambling scandal involving someone affiliated with the league that Rob Manfred (or whichever commissioner) can’t just ignore or sweep under the rug or what have you, and it’s going to have “I told you so” written all over it.
As The Baltimore Banner reported over the weekend, the Orioles/Baltimore lease renewal hasn’t been signed yet, and now isn’t even scheduled to be signed. Rumors that the team will be sold have put a stop to the agreement for now. Neil deMause has details over at Field of Schemes, as well.
The short of it is that, even though the deal itself hasn’t been finalized in terms of what’s actually being agreed to, the signing of it was being pushed hard. And now with the team maybe being sold (John Angelos denies the team is for sale, but John Angelos also denies reality pretty regularly), the governor of Maryland, Wes Moore, is having second thoughts about the whole pushing this through thing. So this has gone from done (well, “done”) to in a holding pattern. We’ll see how long it lasts.
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