Shohei Ohtani might be interested in a short-term deal with a high AAV?
A report by Bleacher Report came out recently stating that Ohtani might be open to a short-term contract with a higher AAV. In my opinion, I think this has to be the best route for the Mariners to make their pitch and really be aggressive with Ohtani. Where the Dodgers might be able to offer half-a-billion dollars, maybe the Mariners can win him over with shorter-term, higher AAV, and contract control.
Now, I am sure that if the Dodgers are willing to offer a 12-year deal worth $550 million dollars, they would have no issues with a 2-or-3-year deal with $50+ million per year. Maybe this is hard for the Mariners to compete. But the Dodgers have a serious need in their rotation and Ohtani won't give them that until next year. Maybe the Mariners could be super aggressive and give Ohtani a 3-year deal with opt-outs after every year, with a base of $50 million in 2024, a base of $50 in 2025 with $15 million in incentives on the pitching side, and a similar structure in 2026? If Ohtani maxed that out, it would be a 3-year deal worth $180 million dollars.
A shorter-term contract like this allows both parties to assess the fit and proceed from there. If Ohtani loves Seattle, produces, and wants it to be his long-term home, then the Mariners should oblige. If he wants out after the first year, he can, if he dominates on the mound and batter's box in year 2 and wants to secure a long-term contract, he can opt out and get that. If the Mariners would rather take that money and use it to resign Gilbert, Kirby, and Cal, assuming Stanton is willing to reallocate that money, which is a big if, then you can do that.