Ohtani’s true player value highlights possible contract figures

Ohtani’s true player value highlights possible contract figures originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

Just how valuable is Shohei Ohtani, and how large of a contract would the Giants need to offer him in free agency this winter?

In short: Nobody knows. However, that’s not to say his value cannot be quantified.

ESPN’s Bradford Doolittle released a very detailed, excellent breakdown of Ohtani’s value as both a hitter and a pitcher and how that could translate to what will be a historic free-agent contract this upcoming offseason.

Doolittle separated each component of Ohtani’s two-way ability, and each skill was modeled to feed into his $8 million/Wins Above Replacement (WAR) calculation. Based on ESPN’s calculations, here is Ohtani’s total value per season based on his recent performances:

Average annual value over last three seasons: $76 million

Pitching: $37.6 million
– Sweeper: $22.3M (29.3 percent of skill set)
– 4-seamer: $7.9M (10.4 percent of skill set)
– Splitter: $5.3M (7.0 percent of skill set)
– Other: $2.1M (2.8 percent of skill set)

Hitting: $38.4 million
– Power: $20.1M (26.4 percent of skill set)
– Average: $10.0M (13.1 percent of skill set)
– Patience: $7.6M (10.0 percent of skill set)
– Baserunning: $0.7M (1.0 percent of skill set)

The 29-year-old Ohtani could receive anywhere from a nine-, 10-, 11-, or even a 12-year contract based on what other superstar free agents (i.e., then-30-year-old Aaron Judge’s nine-year New York Yankees contract last winter) received. Based on the average annual value projection of $76 million, here are a few possible contracts based on ESPN’s calculation of his true player value.

9 years, $684 million
10 years, $760 million
11 years, $836 million
12 years, $912 million

MLB front offices should be willing to pay Ohtani what he’s worth both on and off the field, but there’s no denying that even for a unicorn like Ohtani, his value will depreciate over time as he ages.

Over the course of ESPN’s value-based 12-year, $912 million contract, for example, Doolittle aged Ohtani’s production from his age-29 season in the first year of his contract (2024) to his age-41 season in the final year of his contract (2035) and calculated a loss in value of $122.3 million over the course of the deal.

This is important because teams interested in Ohtani this winter likely will calculate some projected loss of value into their contract offers. Of course, each team might calculate Ohtani’s value over the course of his contract differently, but for ESPN’s example, the original 12-year, $912 million contract then would become a 12-year, $789.7 million contract with the loss of value factored in.

Based on those figures, Ohtani’s AAV would be $65.8 million per season, which probably will be pretty close to what he might actually receive.

That new figure would result in possible contracts of:

9 years, $592 million
10 years, $658 million
11 years, $723 million
12 years, $789 million

Here is ESPN’s methodology for the breakdown:

The basis of our valuation estimate is the Baseball-Reference.com version of WAR and is focused on Ohtani’s past three seasons, those most relevant to establishing his market value. Using that three-year window, we used run estimates to divide Ohtani’s WAR into skill categories, so we could see just how much each skill has fed his overall value. The basis for these run estimates was FanGraphs’ formula for weighted runs created (wRC) and the Statcast-based run values for each of Ohtani’s offerings while on the mound. From there, we used FanGraphs’ standard for the valuation of its version of WAR, which translates to $8 million per win, the estimated going rate of a victory in the open market. Finally, we took a spin at considering Ohtani’s going-forward production using standard aging tables.

Would any of the possible interested teams, including the Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers, Giants, Seattle Mariners, Chicago Cubs, Texas Rangers and others be willing to spend that much? Only time will tell.

For now, at least we can start to wrap our heads around the eye-popping number we might see later this offseason.

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