Promises kept: White Sox don’t sign Shohei Ohtani

Shohei Ohtani during the White Sox vs. Angels game
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire)

White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf is a man of his word.

At the end of August, when he was in the process of draining all possible excitement from the introduction of Chris Getz as general manager, Reinsdorf told the assembled media, “Look, we’re not going to be in the [Shohei] Ohtani race, I’ll tell you that right now. I’ll tell you that.”

It was a bold proclamation, mostly because it potentially violated the terms of the CBA regarding comments about free agents and it was just unnecessarily off-putting in general, but in the end, Reinsdorf lived up to his promise:

Shohei Ohtani will not be a member of the White Sox. He didn’t even come close.

Instead, after a crazy, whirlwind free agent courtship involving a half-dozen teams requested to remain silent about all interactions, which prompted fans to fill in the silence with private-jet tracking and social media sleuthing, Ohtani settled for a 10-year, $700 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Reinsdorf’s decree ran counter to the notion that the White Sox could or should be interested in a player of Ohtani’s caliber, mostly because he does just about everything well, and the White Sox don’t do anything right.

Moreover, vows by White Sox decision-makers had fallen flat in recent years.

After his introduction as the newest White Sox manager last November, Pedro Grifol said “We’re going to prepare every night to kick your ass.” The White Sox went on to lose 102 games.

Toward the end of that disastrous season, Reinsdorf said that he hired Getz without considering other candidates because “we want to get better as fast as we possibly can,” and while the jury is still out, Getz mostly appears to be clearing salary.

Prior to Getz, Rick Hahn told White Sox fans “the money will be spent” after the team’s failed pursuit of Manny Machado and the quiet abandonment of Bryce Harper. The White Sox didn’t sign any premium free agents over the course of Hahn’s second rebuild, and while Hahn tried to write off complaints as hot takes, his attempts to revise history never connected with fans who felt betrayed.

On one hand, the White Sox’s utter indifference to Ohtani signaled an end to carefully constructing offers designed to finish, at best, a distant second. Others saw it as maintaining the White Sox’s long-standing tradition of avoiding free agents who run the risk selling jerseys to fans, rather than immediate relatives only.

However it happened, the White Sox fulfilled the promise of being completely indifferent to Ohtani, clearing the path for White Sox fans to be completely indifferent to the White Sox.

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yinkadoubledare

I think Grifol actually said “We’re going to prepare every night to lick your ass.”

StockroomSnail

…Mr. reinsdorf

Trooper Galactus

They’ve really matched their meat.

itaita

To be fair to Reinsdorf on this one occasion, 700 million is insane and only the Dodgers and maybe the Yankees or Red Sox could even afford it, i dont even think the Cubs could go that high for one player. I do wonder how long and how much the differed money is though. This of course doesn’t excuse sitting at the table for Machado and Harper, who are guys that they should be able to spend for.

dwjm3

I’m glad Jerry was alive to see this Ohtani contract handed out. His entire time as owner he has be consumed with keeping the cost of labor down. The new generation of owners has been taking a flame-flower to his Vision. They want to win they aren’t overly concerned with wages.

My other thought is this may help us in our quest for getting a new owner that is decent. The mega free agent deals that have been given out over the last few years may turn off potential ownership groups that are inclined to be stingy with money. Cheap owners will head to the NBA and NFL.

StockroomSnail

I too am comforted by the fact that no matter who paid Ohtani something like what he was worth, I got to imagine jerry punching his favorite pterodactyl feather filled pillow in a lather.

Last edited 2 months ago by StockroomSnail
FishSox

Is it possible to ask JR, right now, which race does he expect to be in on?

If it’s a race to the bottom, I gotta figure the Sox are among the favorites.

jorgefabregas

Didn’t want this to be buried in the other post: if the earlier report that Sasaki has the right in his contract to demand being posted, it’s possible that having uncommitted international pool money could help the White Sox (but he would probably go to a good team in that scenario). https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2023/12/roki-sasaki-asks-to-be-posted-for-mlb-teams-chiba-lotte-marines-likely-to-deny-request.html

ForsterFTOG

Like the Dodgers?

ForsterFTOG

Saw in a Tweet that Reinsdorf’s top 25 free agent contracts total are worth about the same as Ohtani’s.
Numbers 39 and 40 were 1 year $5 million.

Foulkelore

Everyone here can play along with a great, depressing Sporcle that Ted put together for the richest free agent contracts given by the Sox. This is from last December, so it will be slightly out of date. Because, you know, the 2 years, $15 million the Sox just gave Fedde would be tied for 20th highest contract ever given out by the White Sox:
https://soxmachine.com/2022/12/sporcle-saturday-the-money-will-be-spent/

OldMMJ87

When Bill Veeck decided to sell the team he said he did not mind the high price of stardom but was getting out of the game because of the high price of mediocrity. What astounds me about Jerry Reinsdorf’s tenure as White Sox owner is that he has shown again and again, he is willing to pay for mediocrity, but he won’t pay for star talent.

roke1960

And the sad part about it, looking at some of the contracts he’s given out (Leury, Jaime Navarro, Eaton…), he actually overpays for mediocrity.

calcetinesblancos

I literally don’t get Reinsdorf. He’s like the Ed Burke of MLB; filthy rich and could be doing any number of good things or fun things, but instead he chooses to spend the twilight of his life being an asshole because that’s what he enjoys doing the most.

Al Kohallik

Always stay with your strongest suit

StockroomSnail

The war on labor is his true passion; people just have a hard time understanding why and thusly accepting it.

MasGarcias

WOW…
I officially wish baseball did have a salary cap. Sho by himself is more than the entire payroll of the As.
It is more than the active roster payroll of Many teams actually.
How can that be good? Might as well just carve out top half in a sort of BCS – FCS system that NCAA football has for Division I.

Joliet Orange Sox

I oppose a salary cap. I don’t understand taking the position that the owners should make more money.

I also think a pre-req to favoring a salary cap is that the person espousing the cap must be able to clearly explain the NBA salary cap and all the exceptions and nuances. I can’t do it nor can the sports fans I’m friends with. I expect an MLB salary cap would be just as byzantine.

MasGarcias

MLB distinction between rev share and non rev share is just as obscene.
The salary imbalance is ridiculous and getting worse. Salary cap is one solution. I’d be in favor for more drastic revenue sharing, for the purpose only of building a stadium. Spare the small market taxpayer.
Or split the league.

Joliet Orange Sox

In general, I favor increased revenue sharing as the way to address the differences between markets and how it can lead to competitive imbalances. My stance on specific proposals depends on the details.

Last edited 2 months ago by Joliet Orange Sox
ChiSoxND12

I’ve thought about that comment dozens of times since Jerry said it. It made me sick then and still does, especially something seemingly innocuous (‘well duh, Jerry we knew you wouldn’t be going after him’)

I think you nailed it Jim by calling it “off-putting”. I’d say it was wildly, wildly off-putting.

Right Size Wrong Shape

I was also annoyed by the select few butt-kissing media members who were granted the privilege of being there laughing hysterically when he made the comment.

Dennis

JR has been a Dodger fan since his days in Brooklyn…just sayin’

HoytWilhelm

Even misers can be wasteful. If Ohtani hits 44 homers again next season, he’ll be getting less than 2 million per. Reinsdorf paid Benintendi 3 million per for his five long ones this year. But of course, no one packs ’em in like Benintendi.

Northside southpaw

With Jerry at the helm, the Sox will always be a small market team in a big market town.

bfl5916

When the book on the death of baseball is written, there will certainly be a chapter on this contract. It’s so harmful to the game, one doesn’t even have to be a baseball fan to know that. Why do I continue to follow the game? Really don’t know. Maybe because I loved it so much growing up. The powers to be are killing it though. To bad. I wonder who the Sox will get for Cease? I just go on!

jorgefabregas

I really don’t get this take. What difference does it make to the small market teams if Ohtani’s contract was 400M instead of 700M? If anything, as long as they’re not signing him, they should want him to sign for as much as possible.

GrinnellSteve

Joe Sheehan did a loose calculation on the net value of the contract based on someone else’s calculation for Scherzer’s contract with Washington. He pegged it at $437M. Without knowing the specifics of the deferrals, it’s impossible to pin down exactly.

Whether you’re looking at $43M or $70M, the Dodgers will get value. If the Dodgers are getting their money’s worth, who are we to complain about Ohtani getting his due. Most teams could have matched this contract if they had the guts to do it. And most clubs would come out even or better.

I wish he hadn’t gone to the Dodgers, but I’m glad he got paid, and I’m glad we will finally have a chance to see him on the biggest stage.

katiesphil

To add thought or two here, what he brings to the Dodgers is more than WAR numbers or $X per HR or whatever. He’s also putting butts in seats, selling untold jerseys all over the world, ad revenue, “brand value,” and on and on. Superstar players (much as I actually hate that term) bring more than just statistics. I could retire in 6 months if I had 5% percentage of the LA/Ohtani T-shirt revenue.

GrinnellSteve

Exactly. Maybe if Shohei loses both arms in a threshing accident at his farm next month, the Dodgers will lose on the contract. Mostly, though, it’s a no-brainer.

Joliet Orange Sox

Armless Shohei or Oscar Colás: Who’d be a better MLB player?

LamarHoyt_oncrack

Ohtani’s average yearly salary is only 5M less than the biggest free agent contract the Sox have ever given out.

asinwreck

The Dodgers just got the most valuable player in baseball. I’m not talking about the AL MVP Award, but the one who was estimated to have generated $337 million in economic activity in 2022.

What does having Ohtani on the Dodgers mean as RSNs collapse? The Dodgers recently signed an extension to their cable agreement with Spectrum, but I imagine ownership is thinking about how to market their product on an app when Spectrum is no longer viable,

What does having Ohtani on the Dodgers mean to their global brand identity? Dodgers merchandise is already popular; I’ve seen it in Paris and Sydney. Now that one of the most famous humans in the world is a Dodger, how many caps and jerseys will get sold worldwide? Where will Dodgers games get telecast?

I see White Sox merchandise everywhere, too. Imagine how much more powerful that brand could be with major league ownership. We have to wait for that as the Dodgers assemble a team that is formidable on and off the field.

katiesphil

OK. This, precisely. I should have scrolled farther before posting, above.

StockroomSnail

People are so used to wage suppression that anybody that does get paid seems like a colossal mistake to them.

Peter

Thanks for the link. Joe Sheehan also has a piece specific to Ohtani including an analysis of present value of Ohtani’s contract which tries to account for deferrals. It’s helpful for all of us to keep in mind how little we actually know about MLB finance.

upnorthsox

Ok now that that is done let’s get some of that Dodger young meat they no longer need. Andy Pages, Miguel Vargas, Michael Busch, and Emmett Shaheen for Dylan Cease. Make it happen.

upnorthsox

Dodgers have a problem trying to open up 40-man spots for Ohtani and Kelly, I can see a way out of their problem, Andy Pages, Miguel Vargas, Michael Busch, and Emmett Shaheen for Dylan Cease. No more 40-man issue, make it happen.

https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2023/12/shohei-ohtani-notes-advertising-revenue-40-man-roster-move.html

nashsox

Braves just getting Getz all softened up for Cease.

Al Kohallik

Sadly Getz probably feels he owes them something now…….plus who did Braves make room for

Al Kohallik

Well we got our C now

Joliet Orange Sox

katiesphil

For cash and a future lottery ticket. I can live with that. I was dreading this being a “big” piece of a Cease deal. Bullet dodged, for now.

Right Size Wrong Shape

You forget that White Sox lottery tickets have been known to rhyme with Matisse.

Last edited 2 months ago by Right Size Wrong Shape
katiesphil

Well, okay, there’s that

BillyKochFanClub

The Salvador Perez bullet dodged as well.

katiesphil

Would like to upvote this more than once, please.

I’m not counting my chickens yet.

steelydan52

The Ohtani money is nuts and I’m glad the Sox wouldn’t even think about it. And now for all you Bryce Harper fans, he wants an extension with what……….5 years remaining on his current contract? I’d go tell him to suck a lemon.
But the Sox did trade for catcher Max Stassi. So there’s that.

Right Size Wrong Shape

I can’t imagine ever being mad about my team signing a good free agent. I can’t imagine my team ever signing a good free agent.

steelydan52

I want the Sox to sign a good free agent but there are good FA’s that don’t require $700 mil. I like Ohtani but with him AND Trout, how many titles did they win? You need a team and the Sox don’t have that and wouldn’t get that with that kind of money. I get that JR doesn’t sign bigger names but the Ohtani money is screwed up. Having said that, I’m glad the Flubs didn’t get him either. Counsell is probably wondering why he left the Brewers.

Right Size Wrong Shape

So signing him for a lot of money is bad, but you’re glad that the Cubs didn’t sign him? If the Sox announced today that they were signing Shohei Ohtani you’d be dancing in the streets with the rest of us.

steelydan52

No I wouldn’t. I can guarantee that. We all knew it wouldn’t happen and then bad mouth JR when it doesn’t. That signing would make it impossible for the Sox to build a team. The Dodgers already have a good team but the money is stupid. I would vote for a hard cap. And Ohtani on the Sox wouldn’t get them to the playoffs. Ask the Angels.

Right Size Wrong Shape

OK Jerry.

steelydan52

Funny, but my comments are true. With Ohtani the Angels record is 50 games UNDER .500. I don’t get the hype. That stat is from Statmuse. Again, I love Ohtani but not for that kind of stupid money. And it was with Trout. Just my opinion like all of you have yours.

katiesphil

Done!

Right Size Wrong Shape

I’ve been listening to a lot of Patti Smith lately! I missed you KP.

katiesphil

I still admire her, but really loved her back when she was young and blazing and messy.

Right Size Wrong Shape

She’s playing at the Salt Shed at the end of the month.

Foulkelore

Harper has 8 years left on his deal, which goes to show how shortsighted the Sox were for not being in on that, since he’s already underpayed as per the current market.

steelydan52

My point was these guys are never going to be happy with contracts so I wouldn’t want them on my team. So what is Harper going to do now? Hold out? Remember when Scottie Pippen signed his big contract and Reinsdorf asked him if he was sure about it? Well, how did that work out? That part of JR I do respect. And Pip didn’t have any recourse except to play it out. Harper got what he wanted knowing the market would change. And now……………………..? Deal with it is what I’d tell him.

StockroomSnail

So you don’t want good players because they know they’re good and want to be paid like it?

Greg Nix

Clearly Nomar Mazara was a superior acquisition to Bryce Harper, as he does not require a contract extension at this time.

soxygen

By my count, the Sox went 61-101 last year (not 60-102).