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BASEBALL | Shohei Ohtani, Angels Hammer Out New Two-Year Deal

Ohtani will receive $3 million this season and $5.5 million in 2022 based on the terms of the new contract.

Ed Odeven

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Shohei Ohtani avoided arbitration by finalizing a two-year contract with the Los Angeles Angels, the MLB team announced on Monday, February 8.

Based on the terms of the contract, Ohtani will receive $3 million USD (about ¥314 million JPY) this season and $5.5 million USD (about ¥575.4 million JPY) in 2022. He had a $650,000 USD contract last season.

The 26-year-old pitcher/designated hitter is entering his fourth season with the Angels. He was the 2018 American League Rookie of the Year.

Ohtani, who will be arbitration-eligible again in 2023, requested a $3.3 million deal for this season, while the Angels countered with a $2.5 million proposal.

With spring training approaching, Perry Minasian, the Angels’ new general manager, is pleased the team worked out a deal with Ohtani.

“I think with the one-year deal we just ran out of time because it was a unique case,” Minasian said. “There’s not a lot of examples of players like him. But we further discussed it and talked about a multi-year deal, and we felt like this number lined up over a two-year deal. There’s risk and reward to both sides and it made sense for us, obviously, and made sense for them. I’m ecstatic we were able to get a deal done.”

Plagued by arm and elbow problems, Ohtani has been limited to 12 games as a pitcher in the major leagues, including two games in the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign. He didn’t pitch in 2019 after undergoing Tommy John surgery following his first season with the Angels.

On offense, the former Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters star struggled for large stretches of the 2020 season. Ohtani finished with a .190 batting average with seven home runs and 24 RBIs in 44 games.

Minasian, who replaced Billy Eppler as Angels GM, told reporters during a conference call that Ohtani’s offseason workouts went well.

“He definitely put in the work and that’s what’s pretty impressive, is just the amount of time and energy this guy puts into his craft,” Minasian said. “When you combine that with the talents, I think we feel like he’s going to be a huge part of this club and help us win games in multiple ways. We believe he’s a difference-maker type player.”

It remains to be seen how the Angels plan to use Ohtani in 2021. 

Commenting on the issue, Minasian said, “We feel like he can help the team in both categories ー on the mound and in the batter’s box. He’s going to have every opportunity to do that. And he’s excited for the opportunity.”

Author:  Ed Odeven

Follow Ed on JAPAN Forward’s [Japan Sports Notebook] here on Sundays,  in [Odds and Evens] here during the week, and Twitter @ed_odeven.

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Ed Odeven is a longtime sports journalist who previously worked for The Japan Times as its chief basketball reporter for nearly 14 years. He also covered a wide range of other sports for the newspaper, including at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2012 London Games. A graduate of Arizona State University, Odeven worked for several newspapers in the Grand Canyon State before moving to Japan. He has freelanced for dozens of media outlets around the world.