The Los Angeles Angels have signed two-way Japanese star Shohei Ohtani to a one-year contract worth $30 million for the 2023 season, the club said Saturday.
It sets a record for a player in his third year of arbitration, surpassing the $27 million Mookie Betts received before the 2020 season, according to the Angels' official website.
The deal aimed at avoiding arbitration is also the largest one-year contract ever signed by a Japanese player and a big jump in salary for Ohtani, who made $5.5 million this year.
"It's great for him," Angels interim manager Phil Nevin said. "I think with the comfort level heading into the offseason, it's a good thing."
Ohtani remains set to be a free agent after 2023.
USA Today reported on "the biggest raise in baseball history," saying the deal "provides the strongest signal yet that the Angels have no intention of trading Ohtani before he is eligible for free agency, and may try to sign him to an extension before the end of the 2023 season."
Among other U.S. newspapers, The New York Post said the latest deal "removes the uncertainty of arbitration and could make him even more attractive in the trade market."
The Orange County Register reported Ohtani and the Angels "simply completed the negotiations that would have happened in January or February a few months early."
"It is likely the Angels and Ohtani are delaying any decisions on the two-way player's future beyond 2023 until after the team is sold," the newspaper said. Owner Arte Moreno announced in August he was exploring a possible sale.
In the final year of his two-year contract, Ohtani has become the first player since Babe Ruth in 1918 to have at least 10 wins as a pitcher and 10 home runs as a hitter in the same season.
The 2021 American League MVP has won 15 games with a 2.35 ERA and hit 34 home runs this season. Earlier in the week against the Oakland Athletics, Ohtani fell just four outs shy of his first career no-hitter.
The 28-year-old Ohtani is scheduled to pitch Wednesday in the Angels' final game of the season, against the Athletics, needing just one inning to reach 162 for the season, which would allow him to qualify for the season-ending AL leaders in pitching statistics.
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