Angels to pay Shohei Ohtani $650,000 this season

Shohei Ohtani, the American League rookie of the year in 2018, is being paid $650,000 by the Angels this season. The major league minimum is $555,000.
(Tony Dejak / Associated Press)

On the day after the Tampa Bay Rays angered the American League Cy Young Award winner by imposing a salary on him, the Angels agreed to a contract with the AL rookie of the year.

The Angels will pay Shohei Ohtani $650,000 this season. The Rays will pay Blake Snell $573,700.

Within the grand universe of baseball salaries, neither figure is particularly notable. Mike Trout will receive $33 million this season.

However, the Ohtani and Snell cases illustrate how players not yet eligible for salary arbitration have little leverage.


The minimum salary in the major leagues this season is $555,000. Beyond that, major league teams can pay whatever they like to players with fewer than three years of experience, including Ohtani and Snell.

Ohtani has played one full season in the majors, Snell two seasons.

“The Rays have the right under the collective bargaining agreement to renew me at or near the league-minimum salary,” Snell said in a statement. “They also have the ability to more adequately compensate me, as other organizations have done with players who have similar achievements to mine. The Rays chose the former.”

In 2013, after Trout finished second in AL most-valuable-player voting in his first full season, the Angels renewed him at $510,000, only $20,000 above the minimum.

“I asked only that the Angels compensate Mike fairly for his historic 2012 season, given his service time,” agent Craig Landis told The Times then. “In my opinion, this contract falls well short of a ‘fair’ contract, and I have voiced this to the Angels throughout the process.”

In 2014, after Trout had again finished second in the AL MVP vote, the Angels signed him for $1 million, a record for a one-year contract for a player not yet eligible for arbitration.

One month later, the Angels signed Trout to a six-year, $144.5-million contract extension.

Donkey day

On Tuesday, the Angels have their first day off this spring. Zack Cozart will spend the day with the donkeys.

A point of clarification: He is just being a good dad.

“My son is the one who is super obsessed with donkeys,” Cozart said.

His son, Cooper, is 4. The donkeys roam in Goodyear, Ariz., near the spring home of Cozart’s former team, the Cincinnati Reds. Cooper can feed them carrots.

“We’ve been going there every single year since he was born,” Cozart said.

Those outings were the genesis of Joey Votto’s idea to buy Cozart a donkey if he made the All-Star team in 2017. Cozart did, and Votto delivered.

Cooper named the donkey Donald, after Donald Duck. Alas, the donkey does not live at the Cozart home. Until Cozart retires, he said, the donkey probably will remain at the Cincinnati-area farm from where Votto bought the donkey.

“It’s my donkey,” Cozart said, “but I can’t travel with it, and I don’t want to neglect it. He’s in a better spot right now, being with 50 other donkeys than wherever I would put him.”

And how does Cooper keep up with his pet donkey?

“I’ve got pictures on my phone,” Cozart said.

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Twitter: @BillShaikin