The Los Angeles Angels are not a perfect organization but they did do one thing right. Shohei Ohtani in his final year of arbitration could've asked for more than he did. The Angels could've offered him less than they did. They could've squared off in an arbitration hearing as they did with three other players. Fortunately, that didn't happen.
LA Angels thankfully didn't botch the Ohtani arbitration process
Shohei Ohtani made $5.5 million in 2022. That number will skyrocket to $30 million in 2023. Of course, Ohtani is worth way more than that, but $30 million is the largest salary for an arbitration-eligible player ever.
Considering the $24.5 million jump and the fact that this is indeed the highest salary a player has received in arbitration, the Angels could have nickled and dimed a little bit. Thankfully, they opted to avoid arbitration and settled before the season even ended.
A team that did not make the right decision was the Milwaukee Brewers. Corbin Burnes, arguably the best pitcher in baseball was arbitration-eligible. He was asking for $10.75 million while the Brewers offered him $10.01 million. They were $749,000 apart. The Brewers did end up winning this case, but at what cost?
Burnes detailed the brutal negotiation the two sides had in this process. He said that the Brewers essentially blamed him for the club not making the postseason. Burnes went 12-8 with a 2.94 ERA in 33 starts. He was an all-star and finished seventh in the NL Cy Young balloting. Burnes had a 3.30 ERA in his seven starts in September and October. Seriously??
Milwaukee traded away Josh Hader (who also went through arbitration with the Brewers) and failed to do much of anything at the deadline. But you're going to blame your best player for you not building a good enough team around him? Can you imagine if the Angels said Ohtani was the reason the club didn't make the playoffs?
The Brewers, over $749,000, mere pennies to an MLB team, completely wrecked their relationship with one of the best pitchers in the game. He's under contract through the 2024 season and will almost certainly not re-sign with the Brewers.
Had the Angels gone to arbitration with Ohtani and had to say miserable things about him in an effort to pay him less than he's worth, there's likely no chance he'd even consider remaining an Angel.
The chances could be slim, but the Angels doing right by Ohtani and agreeing to a deal as early as they did shows that they did see the harm in entering the process with one of their superstars. The relationship is not ruined and they do have a chance at retaining him long-term.