The Dodgers gave Shohei Ohtani $700 million to hit and pitch — but in addition as a result of he can promote
PHOENIX — Shohei Ohtani’s jaw-dropping $700 million, 10-year cope with the Los Angeles Dodgers has some similarities to different contracts for the world’s greatest sports activities stars, together with soccer icons Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, together with NFL quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
In phrases of his marketability, consultants level to a different title.
The actual comparability? Try Taylor Swift.
The international music sensation’s broad attraction – one which bridges the hole between generations and expands to different international locations – is a particularly uncommon phenomenon that Ohtani shares. There’s little question the Dodgers hope they’ll leverage the Japanese star’ s arrival into much more cash for a franchise that’s already probably the most fashionable in Major League Baseball.
“He’s rocketed into a stratosphere all his own,” sports activities agent Leigh Steinberg mentioned.
Ohtani was anticipated to signal the largest deal in MLB historical past as a free agent this offseason and didn’t disappoint. He’s the game’s finest two-way participant ever – not even Babe Ruth hit and pitched on the similar time so successfully – and although he received’t have the ability to pitch in 2024 following Tommy John surgical procedure, he ought to present loads of worth on the plate earlier than he returns to the mound in 2025.
But the $700 million price ticket was greater than most imagined.
His $70 million common wage is 62% above the earlier excessive of about $43.3 million, shared by pitchers Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander with offers they struck with the New York Mets. Ohtani’s common wage practically doubles the roughly $42.3 million he earned over six seasons with the Angels. It additionally exceeds your complete payrolls of Baltimore and Oakland this 12 months.
The motive the Dodgers made that sort of dedication is straightforward: It’s in all probability value it. Not simply because he might assist win World Series, however due to the worth he brings even when he doesn’t.
“If Ohtani is marketed right, he’s a globally iconic player,” mentioned Mike Lewis, a professor of selling at Emory University who focuses on sports activities enterprise. “It could be like something from Formula One, where you’ve got the attention of the whole world. Baseball has sometimes struggled to gain national attention, but he’s the kind of guy who attacts millions of eyeballs, and not just from the U.S.”
The Dodgers haven’t had hassle attracting eyeballs over the previous a number of years. They’re a perennially profitable franchise – profitable the NL West 10 of the previous 11 seasons and the World Series in 2020 – and averaged greater than 47,000 followers per sport final 12 months, finest within the sport. They’ve doled out huge cash to stars like Freddie Freeman, Mookie Betts and Clayton Kershaw.
But nothing compares to Ohtani.
Lewis – the Emory professor – mentioned the spike in curiosity may very well be corresponding to Major League Soccer’s Inter Miami, which noticed an enormous leap in on-line interplay, significantly on Instagram, after Messi signed.
As of Sunday morning, the Dodgers‘ Instagram account had 3.2 million followers. Ohtani on his own has 6.3 million.
That’s simply the tip of the iceberg. The common fan understands that Ohtani will generate income with extra tickets, concessions and jerseys offered.
But no participant drives extra curiosity internationally, particularly in Ohtani’s native Japan, with a baseball-obsessed inhabitants of 126 million. Ohtani already has a deep group of sponsors focusing on audiences on each side of the Pacific Ocean, together with New Balance, ASICS and Porsche Japan.
For the Dodgers, his worldwide attraction means extra corporations within the U.S. and overseas are desirous about promoting – Japanese corporations continuously paid for prime advert areas round Angel Stadium when Ohtani was in Anaheim. That alone brings a cascade of money that might repay a good portion of Ohtani’s deal.
For the inventive of us within the promoting business, the probabilities are virtually limitless.
That’s the place the Swift comparisons come into play.
Swift was a dominant pressure in 2023, partly due to “The Eras Tour” that offered out exhibits from coast to coast. But then she took it to the subsequent stage, growing a movie of that tour that introduced in hundreds of thousands of extra followers to theaters all through the nation. Fans obsess over her each transfer on social media, together with her budding romance with NFL star Travis Kelce.
Ohtani is doubtlessly the identical sort of famous person. His free company generated the type of on-line sleuthing and hysteria often related to the Swifties, with followers frantically monitoring personal aircraft actions and alleged sightings attempting verify which of his suitors would land Ohtani. Like Swift, Ohtani additionally starred a documentary this 12 months – his was produced by ESPN.
There’s additionally the truth that amongst athletes, he’s pretty low threat. He hasn’t had a touch of controversy by means of his profession, producing a squeaky clear picture that any potential advertiser can get behind. In reality, followers know surprisingly little about his private life – one thing that solely appears so as to add intrigue.
Steinberg – the retired agent – mentioned that he’s sure each MLB group desirous about Ohtani did a income forecast to estimate the amount of cash Ohtani would generate, even earlier than he touches the sector. If the Dodgers had been prepared to pay $700 million to land him, he’s assured they did their homework.
Monster homers. Potential dominance on the mound. It’s a Hollywood script that the Dodgers are hoping comes true.
“He’s handsome and he’s a huge box office draw,” Steinberg mentioned. “There are very few players who can match that. He has appeal to all.”
AP Baseball Writer Ronald Blum in New York contributed to this story.
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