MLB Notebook: The cost of a reclamation project starting pitcher, Shohei Ohtani talks about decision to sign with Dodgers, and more

Cam Lewis
6 months ago
Shohei Ohtani is officially a Los Angeles Dodger.
On Thursday, the team introduced the two-way superstar wearing a Dodgers uniform for the first time since signing a historic 10-year, $700 million contract earlier this week.
Ohtani told media via longtime translator Ippei Mizuhara that he made his decision to sign with the Dodgers on Friday night before making his announcement on Instagram the following day on Saturday. He also said that a considerable part of why he chose the Dodgers was the team’s “World Series or bust” mentality in which they viewed all of their seasons with playoff losses as failures.
The contract Ohtani signed is one that’s completely unique in the history of baseball. He’ll be paid $2 million per season over 10 years and then he’ll be paid $680 million after the contract is over. There’s also an opt-out clause Ohtani can use Mark Walter is no longer the controlling owner and/or president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman no longer is with the team.
“Everybody has to be on the same page in order to have a winning organization,” Ohtani said. “I feel like those two are at the top of it and they’re in control of everything. And I feel almost like I’m having a contract with those two guys. If one of them are gone, things might get a little out of control so I just wanted a safety net.’’
Friedman confirmed that the deferrals and the opt-out clause were ideas put forward by Ohtani and agent Nez Balelo rather than the Dodgers themselves.
“I know people think I put that [opt-out clause] in,’’ Friedman said, laughing, “but it’s really flattering. It’s also a non-factor for me. I love being here and being part of what we’re building and continuing to be.
I wouldn’t have had the guts to propose it. But as Nez walked me through it, and laid it out, it was terribly consistent with everything he said throughout the process.’’
Friedman also added that the Dodgers will use the financial advantage garnered from the deferrals to surround Ohtani with the strongest team possible.
“It was important to Shohei that this was not the one move we were going to make. He made an incredible pledge to us. We are making a pledge to him.’’
Later on Thursday, it was reported that the Dodgers had finalized a deal with the Tampa Bay Rays for starting pitcher Tyler Glasnow and outfielder Manuel Margot. Ohtani has also apparently “strongly advised” the Dodgers to pursue Nippon Professional Baseball ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto, who met with the team earlier this week.

Aug 3, 2023; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Jack Flaherty (15) throws a pitch against the Toronto Blue Jays during the first inning at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Jack Flaherty signs one-year, show-me contract with Detroit Tigers

The free-agent market is still slowly chugging along. The top fallback nets for teams who missed out on Ohtani are still waiting around but other depth players are signing contracts. Among them from the latter category is starting pitcher Jack Flaherty, who signed a one-year $14 million deal with the Detroit Tigers.
Flaherty posted a 4.43 ERA over 20 starts with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2023 before getting traded to the Baltimore Orioles as the team’s major addition ahead of their playoff push. The right-hander struggled to a 7.11 ERA over seven starts with the Orioles and was relegated to the team’s bullpen in late September.
This contract, coupled with the one-year, $13 million deal that Luis Severino signed with the New York Mets earlier in the off-season, really shows how expensive starting pitching is on the free-agent market. Flaherty posted a 4.99 ERA in 2023 and hasn’t had a strong season since 2019 when he finished fourth in Cy Young voting. Severino was an All-Star in 2017 and 2018 but posted a 4.47 across 209 innings between 2019 and 2023.
Those two contracts also further illustrate why the Blue Jays might be wise to trade from a position of strength to fill other areas of weakness. Despite a terrible season in 2023, Alek Manoah, with four years of team control, would be incredibly valuable to a team that struck out on adding a quality pitcher in free agency and can’t afford to spend nearly $15 million on a reclamation project.


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