Shohei Ohtani's free agency experience took a bit of a hit when he suffered an elbow injury late in the Los Angeles Angels' 2023 season, causing him to not pitch the entire month of September and miss all of the 2024 season as well.
Ohtani is still set to recieve a whole lot of interest, and deservingly so, but the pitching concerns are certainly very real. They felt so real to a point where many thought that there'd be a chance that Ohtani would sign a short-term deal with hopes of inking a long-term deal after proving he's fully healthy to pitch.
Both Mark Feinsand and Jon Morosi of MLB.com shot down that potential contract structure in their latest Q&A published.
Shohei Ohtani will not seek short-term deal, per MLB Insiders
The thought of Ohtani being open to a short-term deal makes some sort of sense, as he'd be theoretically passing on some money this offseason. If he entered the free agent market last offseason instead of this one, he'd probably make a little more. However, with the difference being nothing too crazy, and Ohtani still set to set records with the contract he will sign, it makes sense for Ohtani to only consider long-term deals for now.
Both Feinsand and Morosi believe Ohtani will receive at least one, and probably multiple opt-outs in his deal. This gives Ohtani the chance to opt-out if he is fully healthy and potentially seek an even larger contract. It'd also give Ohtani the chance to get out of a situation he's uncomfortable in and seek a new one, if that became an issue.
By signing a long-term deal with opt-outs, Ohtani gets the best of both worlds. He gets the security of having the largest deal in baseball history locked in while also having the chance to opt out to either look for a new team, or earn more money.
Ohtani has earned the right to get the most player-friendly type of deal possible because of the type of player he is. It'll be fascinating to see the contract Ohtani manages to negotiate this offseason.