MLB Rumors: Shohei Ohtani's free agent value plummets
Shohei Ohtani has been diagnosed with a torn UCL after he was pulled from the second inning of the Angels' recent loss due to "arm fatigue." The injury will prevent him from pitching for the rest of the season and could even require Tommy John surgery, a procedure Ohtani already underwent in 2018.
A second Tommy John surgery is no joke, and there are now serious concerns about Ohtani's future on the mound. The 29-year-old is considered the best player in baseball due to his unique ability to hit and pitch, but with free agency on the horizon, Ohtani's value is plummeting.
In a recent appearance on ESPN, Buster Olney offered a somber appraisal of Ohtani's free agent market given the newfound uncertainty about his viability on the mound.
Olney believes contract offers starting in the $500 million range are off the table, with agents telling him any deal will have to be structured, essentially, in two tiers. One tier pays him as a hitter -- probably well north of $300 million, in the Aaron Judge range. The other tier pays him as a pitcher, but is based heavily on incentives. That way teams aren't on the hook for an exorbitant amount of cash if Ohtani can't deliver on the mound.
This is all very unfortunate for a player who has broadened the scope of baseball's appeal around the globe and truly invigorated the sport with his unique two-way impact. On top of his dominance at the plate (.304/.405/.664 with 44 home runs and 91 RBIs), Ohtani has been very effective on the mound despite a slew of injury bugs (10-5 with 3.14 ERA and 1.061 WHIP). He's a genuinely great pitcher when he's healthy.
Teams will still line up around the block to sign Ohtani this winter, but there's emerging doubt about the value of potential contract offers. Olney even believes recent events will push Ohtani back to the Angels when all is said and done.