When Shohei Ohtani had to stop pitching due to his elbow injury, many thoughts swirled to the head of Los Angeles Angels fans. This wasn't only a big blow for Angels fans who love watching the right-hander take the mound every sixth day, it was a big blow for Ohtani who was set to hit free agency at the end of the season.
It only made sense to think that Ohtani's elbow injury would have some sort of impact on his free agency process. He will not pitch in 2024, and who knows how healthy he'll remain in 2025 and beyond while he's also hitting every day? I mean, there's no precident for what Ohtani has done and is trying to continue to do.
According to Jeff Passan of ESPN (subscription required) Ohtani's market doesn't seem to be impacted at all with the injury. In fact, it can still reach an absurd number.
Shohei Ohtani could earn up to $600 million with his contract even while injured
"The Ohtani extravaganza is barreling toward the finish line, and when he finally agrees to a deal, the number, sources said, will surge well beyond $500 million. One source said he believes Ohtani will receive a contract for at least $550 million. Another said the bidding could reach $600 million. Regardless of where it lands, it will shatter the record for the largest guarantee in North American sports history: the $426.5 million the Los Angeles Angels gave to Ohtani's teammate, Mike Trout."- Jeff Passan - ESPN
It seems that $500 million is where negotiations will start with Ohtani, and his deal could be worth up to $600 million. There will probably be some incentives and opt-outs in there which will make the terms of the deal more complicated, but Ohtani's guarantee could start with a six. That speaks volume to what the league thinks of Ohtani.
Whichever team signs him is perfectly willing to take the gamble that Ohtani might not be the pitcher he once was. They're willing to do this because of the hitter he is, and because of the draw he is. There is no draw bigger in MLB right now than Ohtani. The money he brings in will make the deal more than worthwhile for any team, and the production he gives on the field is the icing on the cake.
Ohtani, even with his pitching in question, is set to shatter Mike Trout's guarantee of $426.5 million by at least $75 million. While the elbow injury may be preventing his contract from starting with a seven, it doesn't seem to really be impacting his value much at all. That, of course, is absurd. Will the Angels be the team to give him the contract that begins with a six? I guess that remains to be seen.