You couldn’t script a better ending to a game-changing World Baseball Classic — or for its MVP.
With two outs in the top of the ninth of a one-run championship game between the U.S. and Japan, Mike Trout stepped into the box to face Los Angeles Angels teammate Shohei Ohtani.
After working the count full with multiple 100-mph fastballs, Ohtani put Trout away with a killer slider for the save, lifting Japan to its third WBC title — two more than any other nation.
The Japanese phenom — who finished the WBC hitting .435 with a 1.345 OPS, four doubles, and a homer while pitching a 1.86 ERA with a 0.72 WHIP and 11 strikeouts in 9.2 innings — was awarded tournament MVP.
His triumph will only amplify speculation as to where he could sign as a free agent in 2024, assuming the Angels again fail to capitalize on his generational talent.
The 2021 American League MVP will make $30 million this year — the largest salary ever for an arbitration-eligible player.
This season, MLB’s top-paid pitchers, Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander, will each make $43.3 million. The top hitter, Aaron Judge, will make $40 million.
Considering Ohtani’s immense talent on both sides of the ball, a record salary extrapolated over a long-term contract could easily make him baseball’s first $500 million man.
Teams in the mix could include the big-spending New York Mets, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego Padres, and New York Yankees.