Ohtani Signs World’s Record-Breaking Contract in Team Sports History: Which Athletes He Sits Atop?

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Shohei Ohtani has at last consented to a historic deal, the costliest in professional sports history, following nearly a year of speculation.

The two-time MVP of the men’s baseball American League will sign a contract with the seven-time Major League Baseball’s (MLB) World Series winners Los Angeles Dodgers, he announced on Instagram last Saturday.

Ohtani’s record-breaking agreement is valued at $700 million over ten years, as reported by the ESPN columnist Jeff Passan. This has instantly launched his new squad to place #1 of the favorites to win the 2024 MLB title with odds of around 6.50 at the moment of writing the piece at the best betting sites with MLB markets.

His average compensation of $70 million is 62% more than the previous high of $43,333,333 that pitchers Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer split after reaching deals with the New York Mets. Ohtani made about $42.3 million with his previous club, the L.A. Angels. It also surpasses Oakland’s and Baltimore’s combined payrolls for this year.

A source knowledgeable about the agreement told The Associated Press that his agreement involves historically large amounts of deferred money, which will reduce the sum that it counts toward the Dodgers’ luxury tax payroll. The individual spoke under the stipulation of confidentiality because the specifics were kept under wraps.

Ohtani’s Elbow Injury Called His Pitching Prospects into Question

After having elbow surgery on September 19 to repair a ruptured UCL, Ohtani’s long-term pitching future was called into question, but it was clear that if he wanted to (and he wanted!), there wasn’t likely to be any doubt that he could sign the biggest deal in MLB history. As there’s no salary ceiling on teams, MLB already boasts some of the richest contracts in sports, such as Mike Trout’s $426.5-million-worth signing with LA Angels for 12 years in 2019.

Although there’ll be a lot of discussion on the Japanese athlete’s value to the Dodgers, this piece focuses on how his contract fits into the larger scheme of sports contracts. This list of the wealthiest sports deals is determined on total value rather than average yearly compensation and only includes athletes who play team sports as opposed to athletes who play individual sports (auto racers, boxers, mixed martial artists, etc.).

Top 10 Richest Contracts in All of Sports

  1. Shohei Ohtani (JPN), Los Angeles Dodgers (baseball, MLB): 10 years, $700 million (2023)
  2. Lionel Messi (ARG), Barcelona (football, La Liga): 4 years, $674 million (2017)
  3. Patrick Mahomes (USA), Kansas City Chiefs (American football, NFL): 10 years, $450 million (2023)
  4. Karim Benzema (FRA), Al-Ittihad (football, Saudi Pro League): 2 years, $426 million (2023)
  5. Mike Trout (USA), Los Angeles Angels (baseball, MLB): 12 years, $426.5 million (2019)
  6. Markus “Mookie” Betts (USA), Los Angeles Dodgers (baseball, MLB): 12 years, $365 million (2020)
  7. Aaron Judge (USA), New York Yankees (baseball, MLB): 9 years, $360 million (2022)
  8. Manuel “Manny” Machado (USA), San Diego Padres (baseball, MLB): 11 years, $350 million (2023)
  9. Francisco Lindor (PUR), New York Mets (baseball, MLB): 10 years, $341 million (2021)
  10. Fernando Tatís Jr. (DOM), San Diego Padres (baseball, MLB): 14 years, $340 million (2021)

Many of you certainly wondered why there are no NBA players on the list. Well, in terms of the overall worth of player contracts awarded, sports such as the NBA (and NFL) are still gradually catching up to baseball and football, especially as they’re seeing an exponential increase in revenue from their television deals.

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August 6, 2023 | 1:07 p.m. local time (PDT)

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