Shohei Ohtani made his long-awaited free-agent decision on Saturday, announcing that he had with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Ohtani's contract is not only the largest ever signed by a Major League Baseball player, it's the . MLB's record had previously belonged to Ohtani's former teammate with the Los Angeles Angels, Mike Trout, whose $426.5 million mark now feels passé.
Ohtani may be the first player to rout Trout, but history indicates that he will not be the last. Remember, it wasn't long ago that Alex Rodriguez's $252 million agreement with the Texas Rangers seemed insurmountable. Today, Rodriguez's contract qualifies as the 18th richest in league history -- Rodriguez himself later signed a deal that cleared the mark.
So, barring the league going belly up because of foolish management, or outright societal collapse inspired by any number of existential threats, the odds are good that Trout's deal will continue to drop down the leaderboard.
We here at CBS Sports thought it might be a fun exercise to ask: which current players could clear Trout's mark? Below, we've identified eight players worth a mention, though we're certain that if we wanted we could've included a number of others. Past research has shown that no one reads introductions, but we will stress that we are not suggesting all these players will clear Trout.
Now, let's get to the players, who we've taken the pains of placing in tiers.
Tier 1: Seems likely
Free-agent date: Winter 2024
Why he might top Trout: Soto is, undeniably, one of the world's best hitters. He only celebrated his 25th birthday in October, yet he's already on a Hall-of-Fame trajectory. He's going to be a young free agent, and he'll become such after playing his walk season in the most favorable offensive environment of his career. In other words, there's a non-zero possibility that Soto ends up having one of the greatest offensive years in recent memory. And oh, by the way, he's represented by Scott Boras and his incumbent team, now the Yankees,.
Add it all up, and we would be surprised if Soto doesn't clear Trout. Keep in mind, Soto and Boras turned down a 15-year, $440 million extension offer from the Washington Nationals a couple years ago. You could try to talk yourself into the pair taking the new-school approach of settling for a shorter deal with a maximized annual average value as a way of ensuring Soto can return to the market before he hits 30 for one more big payday. We're not biting -- we think a long deal with well-placed opt-outs is more Boras' style.
Why he might not: Perhaps teams will hold Soto's defensive limitations against him? He's a below-average corner outfielder who could (and probably should) slide to designated hitter over the coming years. (We know, we know; Ohtani is a DH who just got paid significantly more, but we don't think the situations are comparable given Ohtani's two-way promise.) All signs point to Soto becoming a very rich man if this is the best we can do.
Tier 2: Maybe if things break right
Free-agent date: Winter 2025
Why he might top Trout: It's within the realm of possibility that Guerrero has two massive seasons leading into his free-agent date. We're talking 2021-caliber showings, where he launches 45-plus home runs and again lives up to those dated Miguel Cabrera comparisons. Should that come to fruition, he would be reaching free agency as a 27-year-old middle-of-the-order force. Factor in his name, and there's a lot of star power to be leveraged here.
Why he might not: It's also within the realm of possibility that Guerrero does not have two massive seasons leading into his free-agent date. For as great as that 2021 season was, it's not the norm. He's been a near-constant presence in the Blue Jays lineup since his promotion, yet he hasn't made a habit of ranking highly on league leaderboards in the important categories. His star power has taken him to three All-Star Games, but his OPS+ over the last two seasons is in company with Nathaniel Lowe and Christian Walker -- and no one is including them in a piece like this.
Free-agent date: Winter 2025
Why he might top Trout: Tucker gets overshadowed in the Astros lineup by bigger personalities and more established talents, but he's really, really good. Since his first full season in 2020, he's posted an OPS+ comparable to those generated by first basemen Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Pete Alonso, and Matt Olson -- and he's done that while playing an above-average right field. As a result, Tucker has tallied more than 16 Wins Above Replacement over the last three seasons, making him one of 10 position players who can claim that. (He finished a single home run shy of being the eighth player with three 30-plus-home-run seasons in a row.) Plus, he'll be on the sunny side of 30 when he reaches the open market, which is certainly a bonus.
Why he might not: Maybe Tucker's perpetual under-the-radar nature will leave teams cold on the possibility of making tons of additional money off him at the box office and the team store? Or maybe teams will hesitate to pony up for someone who is really good but not quite elite? Both of those may seem like reaches, but Tucker's game doesn't offer many nits to pick.
Tier 3: If it wasn't for those pesky extensions
4. Ronald Acuña Jr., OF, Atlanta Braves
Free-agent date: Winter 2028
Why he might top Trout: Acuña is and has been one of the best players in the game. He proved last season that he was fully recovered from the torn ACL that ended his 2021 campaign and likely impacted his 2022 efforts. He has the rare power-speed combination that allows him to do things like post the. If it weren't for the long-term extension he signed with the Braves early in his career, he would be in line to qualify for free agency next winter and sign an absolutely mammoth deal himself. There's no real reason he can't continue to be a force -- especially if his improvements in contact rate and average exit velocity prove to be sticky heading forward.
Why he might not: Acuña has had his share of injuries, with this past season representing just the second time he had cleared 130 appearances. We certainly hope that Acuña stays healthier moving forward, but that dynamic could be the determinant on whether or not his next deal ends up clearing Trout's mark. The only other aspect we have to offer here is that he'll turn 31 shortly after his contract expires. That's not old in a conventional sense, but it does put him outside the commonly accepted statistical prime window.
Free-agent date: Winter 2027
Why he might top Trout: Like Acuña, Robert offers an incredible power-speed skill set that enabled him to homer 38 times and steal 20 bases in 2023. In turn, he notched his first career five-win season.
Why he might not: …and, like Acuña, Robert has dealt with myriad injuries and is locked into a team-friendly deal for several more years. By the time Robert can test the open market, he'll be 30 years old. Hopefully, at that point, he'll have more than one season under his belt with 100 games played.
Tier 4: Let's go crazy
Free-agent date: Winter 2027
Why he might top Trout: Witt enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2023, amassing more than four Wins Above Replacement, homering 30 times and stealing 49 bases, and improving his shortstop defense as well as his strikeout and walk rates. He's already closing in on arbitration, and with every passing day the chances of a long-term extension with the Royals take a hit.
Why he might not: A lot can happen over the course of four years. For now, Witt needs to prove that last season's gains were sustainable.
Free-agent date: Winter 2028
Why he might top Trout: Henderson entered last season as CBS Sports' No. 1 prospect. He made good on that promise, batting .255/.325/.489 (125 OPS+) with 28 home runs and above-average left-side defense. His contributions were worth more than six Wins Above Replacement, giving him the edge over fellow Rookie of the Year Award winner Corbin Carroll as well one of the dozen or so best age-22 seasons in recent memory. Many of the names ahead of him went on to have great careers.
Why he might not: As with Witt, there's so much fairway between now and Henderson's free-agent date that it's hard to feel extremely confident. To wit, consider that two of the names that ranked ahead of Henderson on that great age-22 seasons leaderboard belonged to Grady Sizemore and Hank Blalock.
8. Jackson Holliday, SS, Baltimore Orioles
Free-agent date: Winter 2029 at the earliest
Why he might top Trout: Holliday is the sport's best prospect. He's a precious shortstop who hit for a .941 OPS in his first full professional season while seeing 54 combined games at Double- and Triple-A. That bodes extremely well for his chances of becoming a good big-league player. Additionally, Holliday seems unlikely to sign a long-term extension that pays him submarket wages -- his agent is Scott Boras and his father made more than $150 million during his own career -- meaning he could reach free agency in his mid-20s.
Why he might not: Holliday just turned 20 and he's yet to play in a big-league game. He's incredibly promising, don't get us wrong, but there are a lot of different routes his career could take between now and his eventual free-agent date. (Hey, we made it clear this was the pure speculation section.)