Welcome everyone to a new series of articles coming from yours truly. In this weekly series, I will look at three interesting stats, stories, and narratives that caught my attention from the past week.
With that said, here are my three observations from this week!
Shohei Ohtani's Contract is Insane
When we all saw the contract that Shohei Ohtani got from the Los Angeles Dodgers, our collective jaws dropped. A whopping 10-year $700 million deal for baseball's unicorn was something that baseball fans had floated but believed no one would step up to pay that deal. Well, that's what the Dodgers did and now we all have to live with it. However, this is where the insanity of the deal comes through.
On the face of it, the deal was set to pay Ohtani $70 million per year, a truly massive number. Come to find out that days later, Ohtani is deferring $680 million of that $700 million until after the contract is over, effectively paying him $2 million per season for the life of the deal. Then once the deal is over, he will be paid $68 per year from 2034-2043.
While Ohtani will make all that money back with endorsements, bonuses, etc, deferring that much money to help the Dodgers compete for his entire tenure is something unprecedented. While we have had players defer money before (Bobby Bonilla famously with the Mets) for a star of his magnitude to do this is both insane and genius. With this reduction in payroll, the Dodgers are already looking to add more pitching, whether it be Yoshinbu Yamamoto, Tyler Glasnow or Josh Hader for the bullpen, it makes the Dodgers serious contenders to keep buying. Look out for the Dodgers for the rest of the winter to make this LA team a potential dynasty.
Is Jameson Taillon trying to Recruit on Twitter?
The Chicago Cubs have been very quiet this off-season. Their biggest move was bringing back Patrick Wisdom and the only outside move has been signing LHP Edwin Escobar to a minor-league contract. They were in on the Ohtani sweepstakes but finished behind the Dodgers, Blue Jays, and Angels. The Cubs are still looking to bring in one big fish in the free agent and trade market, but as of yet, they haven't been able to reel one in.
However, that hasn't stopped Jameson Taillon from trying to subtly sell the Cubs and Chicago to free agents on Twitter/X. While being asked how the free agency process was last year before picking the Cubs, the former Yankees pitcher explained some of his favorite aspects of playing in Chicago.
For the sake of all Cubs fans, I hope this pays off because I cannot imagine if the Cubs do not spend big money on impact players.
The Bears could make the Playoffs and have the No. 1 Pick?
The words Bears and playoffs haven't been used in the same sentence since the 2020 season when they backed their way into the seventh seed. After the 2-5 start this year, no one would have thought that Chicago would sniff anywhere near the playoffs, yet here we are in Week 15 and the Bears sit just one game out of a playoff spot (5-8).
The biggest engine to this turnaround has been the defense turning into a top-5 unit since the acquisition of edge rusher Montez Sweat at the trade deadline. Since Week 9, Chicago is fifth in total defense, fifth in pass defense, and second in takeaways with 11. They have also had 11 sacks in six games, with Sweat racking up 3.5.
It will take an absolute miracle if the Bears want to make the playoffs, even with them winning out. It would take a 1-3 finish by the Vikings, a 2-2 finish by the Rams and Seahawks and two losses from two of the Falcons, Buccaneers and Saints.
I don't know what will happen in these final four games, and it's a herculean task for the Bears to make the playoffs. Yet, even if they somehow miss the playoffs despite winning out to go 9-8, it will be a massive move forward after winning just three games in 2022. That, with a top-two pick on the way from the Panthers, will set the Bears up for a strong 2024 and beyond with the young nucleus of talent GM Ryan Poles has put together, regardless of who the quarterback is.
Cover Image Courtesy of NBC Sports Chicago