Heartbreak has officially set in for fans of the SF Giants. And unfortunately, it is an all too familiar pain. First Aaron Judge left the franchise at the altar. Then a contract with Carlos Correa fell through at the eleventh hour due to unforeseen injury concerns.
The SF Giants nightmare becomes reality, but is there a modicum of a silver lining?
Now... For the third time in as many seasons, the Giants have failed at their superstar acquisition goals. Even more painful is the fact that two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani chose to join the NL West rival Los Angeles Dodgers for the next decade. For fans in San Fransisco, this was a worst-case scenario.
I've written previously that the Giants have several backup options to acquire a star in the trade market (both position players and ace pitchers). Gamechangers like Cody Bellinger, Yoshinobu Yamamoto, and Matt Chapman, all of whom have been linked to SF, also provide a small window of hope.
Yet... Even the most unbridled optimist amongst us must admit... The Ohtani news cut like a knife. It feels as though the Giants will never land their much-desired big fish.
However, there may be one more silver lining that could comfort Bay Area baseball fans. Even if only slightly. The Dodgers reportedly inked Ohtani to a massive 10-year, $700 million contract. And no, that number isn't a typo. It is, in fact, the largest contract in the history of team sports.
Everyone knew Ohtani was in for a historic payday. However, not one person I read projected the deal would reach $700 million. This is a previously unmatched financial commitment for Los Angeles.
Ohtani will make an Average Annual Value (AAV) of $70 million per season. For context, the next highest mark is Max Scherzer's $43.3 million mark. His deal however, originally for just three years, expires at the end of this season, while the former Angel's MVP is locked into his salary until 2034.
For comparison, superstar Aaron Judge is operating in a $40 million per season deal. Cy Young teammate Gerrit Cole's number rests at $36 million AAV. This means that the New York Yankees are paying a perennial MVP and Cy Young a combined amount that slightly surpasses what Ohtani will make himself.
Granted, Ohtani brings a similar two-way production as both Judge and Cole. He is simultaneously one of baseball's premier, top-tier, talents as both a hitter and a pitcher. So this deal makes sense, right?
What should be concerning for Dodgers fans is the fact that this massive investment rests on the arm and body of one, singular, talent. The newly-signed superstar has already undergone two Tommy John surgeries, the latter of which he is still recovering from and not expected to pitch in 2024.
There is a huge sample size of pitchers recovering completely from their first TJ and returning to full form. However, the second recovery is more difficult to rebound from.
Ohtani, who is an unprecedented talent, also has an unprecedented amount of wear on his body. No one has ever taken the full punishment of consistently being a hitter and pitcher over multiple 162-game seasons. Baseball is gurgling. It is long. It is a marathon.
Ohtani has proven to be up for the physical challenge at every turn. However, the level of risk in a decade-long contract at a $70 million AAV cannot be denied. This deal would be crippling for any franchise if Ohtani's level of production is anything less than that of an MVP/Cy Young.
At the end of the day, I, like every other person invested in the SF Giants, wish Ohtani had chosen the Bay Area. I wish we had all been given such a great reason for celebration. I wish the club had landed their superstar.
Yet, there is a no-so-small part of me that cannot fathom the risk of Ohtani's reported deal. There is, at the very least, a silver lining in the fact that the Giants still have massive capital to build around for 2024 and beyond. And the fact that they are unshackled from having a historic financial commitment tied to the health and longevity of the hardest-working player in MLB.