Weekly Column: The Contract that Broke the Internet

In his capacity as a Columnist for California Sports Lawyer®, Founder Jeremy Evans has written a column about the largest contract in North American sports history for ten years and $700 million by the Los Angeles Dodgers to international phenom and baseball star, Shohei Ohtani.

You can read the full column below.


Shohei Ohtani is a two-way player that is arguably the best hitter and best pitcher in Major League Baseball (MLB). The caveat to this being that Ohtani will not pitch during the 2024 season as he recovers from surgery on his throwing arm. Ohtani was the Most Valuable Player (MVP) in the American League in 2023, clearly marking him as one of the best if not the best player in baseball.

Ohtani is one of the most marketable and popular players in sports, he will now have a larger market to utilize those skills and talents with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The same Los Angeles Dodgers franchise that often leads in game attendance and is one of the valuable teams in all of sports. His contract with the Dodgers is for ten (10) years and seven-hundred million dollars ($700,000,000), $680 million of which will be deferred to 2034-2043 at $68 million per year. It is the largest athlete contract in North American history to date.

The Ohtani contract is one that will likely be remembered and referred to for years to come. If Ohtani is very successful on the field and can both hit and pitch, it will be spoken of as a success. If the Dodgers win championships, the contract will be seen as a success. If the game grows internationally, and the Dodgers become Japan’s team, the contract will be a success. All of the aforementioned leads to financial and popularity success.

However, if Ohtani is injured and loses significant time, the questions of the contract will unfortunately come. Of course the $680 million to be paid ten years from now is likely to cause a strain on the Dodgers budget. The difference here is that the payout is a relatively short period of time at ten (10) years versus the Bobby Bonilla deal that was for twenty-four (24) years. Then again, if there was ever a player to bet on to deliver, it would be Shohei Ohtani.

One thing is for sure, the Dodgers and Ohtani merchandise, ticket sales, television views to use as measurement for future broadcast or streaming deals, will be significant each year to help offset the contract price. The Dodgers open against the San Diego Padres in Seoul, South Korea, in March 2024, for a perfect beginning to the Ohtani era as it begins in Asia. Ohtani also continues a longline of Asian stars for the Dodgers from Hideo Nomo to Chan Ho Park, Hiroki Kuroda, Takashi Saito, Kenta Maeda, Hong-Chih Kuo, and albeit via a trade, Yu Darvish.

Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball and he is further known for his high character and Hall of Fame baseball skills and statistics. Hideo Nomo opened the door for Japanese and other Asian ballplayers. Yasiel Puig helped to usher in more Cuban baseball players and shed light on the dangerous process of prospects traveling from Cuba to the United States. The Dodgers historically have never shied away from signing ballplayers from everywhere and the Ohtani signing is in a long line of that tradition.


About Jeremy M. Evans:

Jeremy M. Evans is the Chief Entrepreneur Officer, Founder & Managing Attorney at California Sports Lawyer®, representing entertainment, media, and sports clients in contractual, intellectual property, and dealmaking matters. Evans is an award-winning attorney and industry leader based in Los Angeles and Newport Beach, California. He can be reached at Jeremy@CSLlegal.com. www.CSLlegal.com.  

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Jeremy M. Evans is the CEO, Founder & Managing Attorney of California Sports Lawyer® representing entertainment, media, and sports clients and is licensed to practice law in California.