Baseball star signs record-breaking $700m deal

US

A Japanese baseball player has signed a record-breaking $700m (£557m) deal with the LA Dodgers

Shohei Ohtani agreed the historic 10-year contract with the California team on Saturday.

The deal was announced after days of speculation over where the pitcher and designated hitter would continue his career after six seasons with the Los Angeles Angels.

“This is a unique, historic contract for a unique, historic player,” Ohtani’s agent Nez Balelo, of CAA Sports, said in a statement.

“He is excited to begin this partnership, and he structured his contract to reflect a true commitment from both sides to long-term success.”

Ohtani’s total was 64% higher than baseball’s previous record, a $426.5m (£340m), 12-year deal for Angels outfielder Mike Trout that began in 2019.

His $70 million average salary is 62% above the previous high of $43.3m (£34.5m) shared by pitchers Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander, with deals they struck when signing with the New York Mets.

 Shohei Ohtani
Image:
Ohtani’s deal smashes previous records in baseball

Ohtani’s average salary nearly doubles the roughly $42.3m (£33.7m) he earned with the Angels. It also exceeds the entire payrolls of Baltimore and Oakland this year.

It is among the largest contract in the history of sport around the world. However, in terms of annual take home pay alone, Cristiano Ronaldo’s reported $200m-a-year deal with Saudi side Al Nassr puts him some way ahead.

Ohtani has not spoken with reporters since 9 August.

In a statement on Instagram, Ohtani: “I apologise for taking so long to come to a decision.

“I would like to express my sincere gratitude to everyone involved with the Angels organisation and the fans who have supported me over the past six years, as well as to everyone involved with each team that was part of this negotiation process.

“Especially to the Angels fans who supported me through all the ups and downs, your guys’ support and cheer meant the world to me. The six years I spent with the Angels will remain etched in my heart forever.”

He added: “And to all Dodgers fans, I pledge to always do what’s best for the team and always continue to give it my all to be the best version of myself.

“Until the last day of my playing career, I want to continue to strive forward not only for the Dodgers but for the baseball world.”

There was no immediate comment by the Dodgers.

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