Well…this was a fun surprise for a Monday…
Shohei Ohtani wants to win and outside of maybe Baltimore, Atlanta is set up for sustained success for years to come. Ohtani will not be able to pitch in the 2024 season, but should be good to go in 2025. It remains unclear as to what procedure Ohtani had, but the timetable suggests that he had a 2nd Tommy John surgery and that would really complicate things.
Let’s be real though. Ohtani is other-worldly with the bat, but is relegated, like Ozuna, to the DH position. In 2023, Ohtani collected 44 HRs, carried a 1.066 OPS on the year, and was worth 6.6 fWAR with his bat alone. So yes, he’s relegated to DH, but he’s also the best hitter currently in the game.
Would Ohtani’s Contract Pay for Itself?
It’s assumed that Ohtani will get $50MM/year for 8+ years, but how much of that contract pays for itself? I have a friend that has lived in Japan for a decade. I asked him about Ohtani and he said his face is everywhere and that 1/2 the population wear his jersey and rock Angels hats. While I don’t know the % sales that each individual team gets when they sell their own products, if millions of people across the globe are rocking your brand, there’s more than just tickets sales that go up. The Braves would sell out every game and their merchandise would fly off of every shelf worldwide, especially in Asian countries.
In 81 home games, the Braves sold out 54 times. If the Braves were to sign Ohtani, it’s almost guaranteed that Ohtani’s presence makes 54 become 81. Total revenue in 2023 rose $55 million, but imagine what it would rise if the team were to sign the most popular player in baseball across the globe.
Historically, Anthopoulos is not the guy to go make these kinds of moves. However, when it comes to Ohtani, the man’s presence just prints money. Put everything else aside and ask yourself if the Braves can cover the cost of Ohtani’s salary through the added income and that answer is likely a hell yes.