Shohei Ohtani's contract includes uncommon opt-out clause, full no-trade protection

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Shohei Ohtani’s heavily deferred $700-million contract with the Dodgers does include an opt-out clause after all, albeit one that can only be triggered under specific circumstances.

According to details of the 10-year contract filed by the Major League Baseball Players Assn., the deal states that, “if specific change [occurs] in Dodger personnel, [Ohtani] may opt out of contract at end of season the change occurs.”

In other words, if a predetermined member (or members) of the organization leave during Ohtani’s time with the Dodgers, he would have the ability to opt out of the deal before its completion.

While neither the Dodgers nor Ohtani’s agency, CAA Sports, have said who the clause refers to, the Associated Press reported that president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and owner/chairman Mark Walter are the people in question.

Per the AP, if either Friedman or Walter lose their roles with the organization, Ohtani would have the ability to leave the club, too.

Such clauses — known as “key-man” clauses — are believed to be uncommon in player contracts, but aren’t unheard of in the sport. For example, former Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon was believed to have a similar clause in his deal regarding Friedman. That’s why, when Friedman left the Rays for the Dodgers in 2014, Maddon was able to opt out of his deal and become manager of the Chicago Cubs .

In Ohtani’s case, if he were to opt out, he would still receive all the deferral payments he had “earned” up until that point.

Ohtani and the Dodgers are hoping things never come to that. They came to their agreement in hopes of building a possible super team in Los Angeles. As they work toward accomplishing that this winter, here are some other notable details in Ohtani’s deal:

  • By union calculations, Ohtani’s deal is actually only worth about $437.8 million in present-day value. That differs somewhat from the league’s calculation of a roughly $460-million present-day value (the number used to come up with Ohtani’s roughly $46-million annual luxury tax hit). The reason for the difference is because the league and union use different accounting methods.
  • Ohtani was given full no-trade protection by the team, which is believed to be the first time the Dodgers have included such a protection in a player contract since Friedman took over as the club’s top executive.
  • Ohtani was guaranteed an interpreter in writing; he has used Ippei Mizuhara as his personal interpreter ever since coming to Major League Baseball.
  • Ohtani will have a suite at all home and road games.
  • Ohtani will “donate to club charity [an] amount not to exceed 1%.”
  • The $68-million deferral payments Ohtani will receive after the contract ends are scheduled to be paid out on July 1 of every year from 2034 to 2043.

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